200 Years of Dominican Women Religious in the United States

In 2022, Dominicans in the United States and around the globe, celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the first foundation of Dominican religious women in this country.  The Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine began in Washington County, Kentucky, in 1822. 

Informally known as the Kentucky Dominicans, this congregation is now part of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who continue to maintain ministries on the site of the original convent opened in 1822.

In the 200 years since the foundation of this first congregation, Dominican women have spread across the United States, preaching the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ in the service of the needs of the times. Some congregations evolved from the original group in Kentucky, while others sprang up in other parts of the United States. Dominican women from Germany and Ireland migrated to the United States, spreading the Dominican message of Christ’s peace and love roots across this country. Today there are 42 Congregations of Dominican Women religious, made up of nearly 3,300 Nuns and Sisters, across the United States.

The theme of the 200th Anniversary celebration is “Pioneering Women of the Past, Innovators Shaping the Future.” (Link to poster) The theme is a nod to their beginnings on the frontier of a new nation, and to the two centuries of innovative ministry in education, healthcare, housing, spirituality, ecology, the arts, and social justice that continue today.

The theme song for the celebration, The Garden of Peace, was composed for the occasion by Teresa Tedder, a musician who lives in the Springfield, KY area. (link to music)

Over the 12-month period from April 2022 to April 2023, Dominican Congregations across the United States will be celebrating with local and national events to celebrate Dominican Life and Mission past, present and future. (Link to events)


In February 1822, Father Samuel Wilson, OP issued a call to the frontier women at Saint Rose Parish near Springfield, KY,  to partner with the Friars in furthering the Dominican mission.  On April 7, Easter Sunday, 1822, Angela Sansbury, Margaret Carrico, Magdalen McMahon and Columba Tarleton formalized their commitment, making first profession of their religious vows as Dominican women. 

They moved into a one-room log cabin convent, and a year later, opened their first school in an abandoned still house on property inherited by two of the Sisters. The Sisters looked to add some beauty to these simple accommodations, and planted jonquil bulbs around the buildings and school. Each year, their cheerful blooms were a sign of spring at the frontier convent.

Within seven years, the Dominican Sisters began their march across the nation, founding daughter congregations in Columbus, OH, Memphis, TN and beyond. Back home in Kentucky, the Sisters built a new, updated convent and an attached academy for young women, and celebrated their diamond jubilee in these beautiful facilities. 

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