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Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Records

 Record Group
Identifier: DUMC-C-010

Content Description

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Papers contains documents gathered from the founding and management of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. These documents include correspondence in the form of letters, memos, and emails between participating congregations and the directors of the Novitiate, from Rome, the Advisory Council and Governing Board, and personal correspondence between sisters; newsletters; budgeting information and financial items; information gathered while trying to fill directorship positions, including resumes, interview notes, and statements of interest; bylaws; handbooks; meeting agendas and minutes of Governing Board, Advisory Council, the Leadership Conference, the Members of the Corporation meetings, videos; photographs; and other various paraphernalia. The documents are mainly written in English, with a few in Latin (primarily from Rome).

The collection is divided in eleven series based on the original organization of the materials by the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. The items are arranged in chronological order within each folder.


  • 1986-present.

Biographical / Historical

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate is a joint effort by the women in the Dominican Order to provide its members in initial formation with an experience of the larger Dominican Family. Seventeen congregations participate, sending their novices to St. Louis for ten months to experience Dominican community life, prayer, study, ministry, exposure to and practice of preaching skills, and personal growth for the novices. The member congregations include Adrian, Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Catherine de’Ricci, Grand Rapids, Hope, Houston, Oakford, Peace, Racine, San Rafael, Sinsinawa, Sparkill, Springfield, Tacoma, and Taos.

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate began as the Common Dominican Novitiate in 1988. Sister Donna Markham, OP was the major driving force behind the founding of the organization. She ensured the different congregations’ participation and was the representative that corresponded with Rome’s officials regarding the organization. The organization changed its name to the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in the mid-1990s in order to better reflect the spirit of the program.

After the Common Dominican Novitiate received official dispensation from the Roman Catholic Church, the organization made the choice to locate the common novitiate in St. Louis due in part to its central location and in part to the existence of other religious congregations and novitiate programs in the area, facilitating more collaboration for the novitiate program. The Novitiate leased a convent in the area from the Catholic High School Association of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri at John F. Kennedy High School in Manchester on the outskirts of St. Louis. The Novitiate remained there until 2000, when they first moved to another convent building at All Souls Parish in Overland, Missouri, then purchased a house in the city of St. Louis, MO in 2001. In 2020, the Novitiate relocated to Hyde Park, Chicago, IL.

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate is managed by an Advisory Council and a Governing Board, both of which consisted of members of the participating congregations. The Advisory Council consists of a Congregational Formation Representative from each participating congregation, along with a presiding officer and the Board of Directors consists of four directors from the member congregations and three directors who are elected from the Advisory Council. Each Board of Directors member serves a term of three years. The Congregational Formation Representatives who make up the Advisory Council are assigned by their member congregations, and consist of those congregations who have novices in the program and those who support the program financially through annual contribution. The members of the Advisory Council who are elected to the Board of Directors must be from different congregations than those who are already represented on the Board.

The novices are directly overseen by Co-Directors, who live with them in the novitiate house and are responsible for their formation during the year. The first directors of the novitiate were Sister Francis Ann Gorman, OP and Sister Mary Ann Nelson, OP. The novices and the Co-Directors are evaluated on an annual basis.

With the exception of 2009-2010, when there were no novices, between two and twelve women representing every member congregation except Taos came to St. Louis to spend a year in formation, totaling about 156 women. These novices took classes at the Aquinas Institute of Theology and St. Louis University in addition to doing community service work, preaching, and meditating on religious life together. As of 2020, the novices attend Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL.


8.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Processed and initial inventory by Sister Diane Kenel, OP, at the Racine Dominican Archives, 2003-2004. Processed and finding aid created after transfer to McGreal Center by Anne Jamieson, Brendan Vizza, 2013. First accrual processed by Eric LoPresti, 2015. Second accrual processed by Ariana Lim, 2016. Additional collection and accruals processing, and ArchivesSpace finding aid created by Aaron Reisberg, 2020 - present.

Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Records
In Progress
1st Ed. Sister Diane Kenel, OP 2nd Ed. Anne Jamieson, Brendan Vizza 3rd Ed. Eric LoPresti 4th Ed. Aaron Reisberg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
4th Edition

Repository Details

Part of the Mary Nona McGreal, OP Center for Dominican Historical Studies Repository

Dominican University
7900 West Division Street
River Forest IL 60305 USA
(708) 524-6677
(708) 524-6546