Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor Renewal

Cloister Outreach is renewing Mother Mary Walsh’s Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, with one small addition to the charism–ancillary ministries.

The official name of the project, which has the support of an OP priest, is the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor of the Immaculate Conception and Lucy the Martyr. Here is the webpage:


Could you please identify the priest and what congregation or province he is with? Also, if he supports the project, in what concrete ways does he do this? I am also curious about the locations and size of this project. For instance, in what diocese is it located and how many are formally involved in it at present? How many of these are professed religious? Do you have solemnly or perpetually professed Dominican nuns assisting with formation or supervising in any sense, etc? Can people interested in this project contact either this priest or, especially, these nuns? How would interested parties go about that? Would these contact persons be listed on your website?

People can and do dream up all kinds of “charisms” and create web pages which lead people to believe they are real, but as you well know, it is important for people considering such projects to be able to talk with real people and determine their credentials and expertise. As you also may know, there are even groups of people on the internet who dress in habits and pretend at being religious. It can be a serious problem for those seeking to enter religious life and naively trusting what they find on the web.

I cannot give out the priest’s name without his permission. He is an American Dominican working in Canada, and is former president of the (defunct) Fellowship of Emerging Religious Communities. He knows the ins and outs of founding/refounding communities. He had been a member of an emerging community before his time with the Dominicans. He is a habit maker, and will be assisting with not only vocational discernment and formation, but with reproduction of the habit as well. “If you renew the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, I will help you in any way that I can,” were his exact words.

We have started the Fullerton Society to fill this gap which the Fellowship’s demise has created.

Resources cannot be assembled until the discerners are reasonably sure they are in the right place. The true aspirants to a new/renewal charism know in their hearts that they have found their vocations and have tremendous flexibility and unconditional love which grow deeper with time. They ignore critics, who are regarded as nothing more than a severe thunderstorm.

The renewal of the DSSP community will likely come from a listserv discussion group, like the Gilbertines are doing. The listserv acts as a rally point. Based on the membership of the listserv, statutes are drawn up for a private lay association. Within this association of the faithful, the preparatory association of renewal aspirants will begin talking to each other via another listserv, and the group will grow in cohesion from there. We have developed the four tier system which will accommodate everyone from non-Catholics interested in living the life to the members of the preparatory association.

The website for the DSSP renewal is all that exists at the present time. We do not know where the community will emerge, nor in which diocese. Having professed sisters involved is known as the founder’s novitiate, and is done after developing the formation program. The sisters have to know what to teach the aspirants. Founder’s Novitiates are $100 per month per person for a year, so the group has to be reasonably sure they’re in the right place before making such an investment.

We put contact people on the websites when they are ready to become the contact persons. This is only after they have discerned enough of the charism to know what they’re talking about and have been living it for some years.

I realize that there are “cyber convents” out there. I have no control over that. We utilize the internet until the Spirit moves us to do otherwise.

If discerners are truly concerned about whether or not we are real, they usually include a phone number. We are obligated to follow our charism inspirations, especially if they are in response to discerner needs. When the discerners’ souls find a match with our charisms, we will support their discernment process and assemble resources as necessity dictates.


So there is actually no community, no formation personnel (at least none that are actually professed religious and have lived this “charism” — or at least a Dominican life), no aspirants, no novitiate, and really nothing more than a list on the internet? Well, that’s pretty clear. Thanks.

Thank you, Cloisters, for sharing your information; everyone has to start somewhere!
If the work is from God it will grow. Many blessings to you.

Thank you for your support. This system is working quite well for the Gilbertine Renewal. We gather everything we can get our hands on regarding the charism, and discuss it on the group. We also have a little “third order” formation program which will eventually count toward the formation of those renewing the actual religious community.

Third Orders don’t accept religious life discerners, so creating a third order-type of lay association is necessary. The aspirants to the religious community spend time as “third order” members, so they can understand the way of life before taking responsibility for the group as a religious assignment within the community.

Lay associations are permitted to wear distinctive garb, live together, and take religious names. This is how emerging charisms come into being. When an emerging charism takes this route, they are known as a preparatory association.

I am working on the Fullerton Society website which will walk a person through the process. The site is the result of my SD’s experience; the founders’ experiences; and church documents. If the group just lives the life, their guiding documents (constitutions/statutes) will write themselves.

Again, thank you for your support!


:nun1: I guess the first thing to do would be attract women to the idea of the renewal of the community.Then you would have to have somehwere for them to go, where they could meet and live together.If a member was a lay Dominican,this would be good. They would already be familiar with the rule of St.Dominic,and could give them training in that regards.Then that might make it easier for them when they were to recieve training in the convent.
If these women had jobs as say a teacher or nurse already, this could also help support the community.Many school districts are always looking for teachers, and a nurse might find a job working in a hospital or doctor’s clinic.

Lots of things to consider here. For me, need to finish Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
But if let’s say I started a community of some sort, it would be under the Archdiocese of San Antonio.And I own a home so we could use that as a place to live,until the community grew and had to build a convent. Even then it could be rented out to give us extra income,after we sisters would move out.
Work would be like that of the Sisters of Charity,or whatever needed to be done.
There is a catholic highschool out in Comal, so any teachers in the group could teach there or some of the catholic schools here or whathave you.
I think that is what Sister is getting at. Is if women are attracted to the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, these future members want to know where they will live, what they will do, training etc.especially if say someone gave up everything to move from California or Oregon to come east or where these sisters would be eventually located… They want to know if they will have a roof over their head,etc. Hence the mention of contacts as to whom to they write or email,etc.

:nun1: Forgot to mention, there are several religious communities here we could recieve training from who have motherhouses here. Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Sisters of Divine Providence,Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate,CordiMarian Sisters, Missionary Servants of St.Anthony, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Salesian Sisters of St.John Bosco, Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence,and the Serafic Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.There is also the Congregation of St.Bridgid, and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament whose motherhouse is in Victoria.
Training for us wouldn’t be a problem.

Her post was understood. We have the page up so that interested parties may pray for God’s will to be done in regards to renewal. The group will meet each other on a listserv, then will contact each other from there.

Until a vocation comes along with a house, the group will have to be satisfied with developing the charism on the listserv. In our experience, many are renting, and therefore do not have the property upon which to develop the charism. I don’t have the resources here locally in which we could incubate the projects.


Then you’re in better shape than a lot of them! Bless God that you have such resources there locally. Live the charism yourself, then decide which of those congregations would be best-suited for the founder’s novitiate. It is highly recommended that you have the formation program lined up so the sisters know what to teach you and your group.


Who is the Dominican friar helping with this effort? Not being able to name names in a situation like this does not make any sense at all. At what level is the province and the master of the order involved?

I cannot reveal the friar’s name without his permission.

If we knew where the group would be emerging, we would know which Provincial to notify.

The Master General is still relatively new, and I did not want to bother him with this just yet. There’s not a lot he can do, other than pray for the effort. I’ll be very surprised if he does do more than just pray for the project.

With the Gilbertine Renewal, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictines assured us of his prayers. He can’t do much more than that.

Any charism which has been suppressed for less than 100 years can be renewed complete with habit. In this case, the updates (which were minimal) required by VatII would have to be edited into the constitutions. The constitutions have to be lived before any bishop can issue a letter raising the group to Private Association. (There are at least three kinds of private association, and that designation is one of them). Until the group knows what works for them, nobody is going to recognize it.


Then, to be very frank,Cloisters, by all means either get this Friar’s permission or stop advertizing the group and saying you have his support. Until you do this, and until people can actually see who is involved and in what specific way (not to mention being able to contact these folks to ask them serious questions), this is nothing more than a pipe dream at best and a possible fraud at worst.

Prescinding from past situations where Cloisters Outreach has misrepresented the actual situation, I will say it makes no sense to me to have people buying into a non-existent pipe-dream with no established formation program, no professed Dominicans who can impart and genuinely help form people in the Dominican Charism. For a genuine charism to emerge it has to be a combination of personal vision, real historical circumstances and need, as well as competent people living (and being formed to live) the vision. Dreaming up some sort of so-called charism apart from concrete historical circumstances does not measure up to the way these things actually come to be — with real people coming together, seeking appropriate expert help, etc. Until one has the combination of 1) concrete historical circumstances/needs 2) a vision which responds to these, and is 3) genuinely embodied in flesh and blood lives, there is no charism.

In other words, charism refers to something real, not imaginary, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church and world. It is not merely an idea — not even if that is a brilliant idea. When religious congregations speak of their charism they are referring to more than the vision on or around which they were eventually founded. They include the concrete way this vision is embodied in the lives of members and touches those outside the community — and this is true even in speaking of an “emerging” charism. It needs to be emerging from somewhere besides someone’s dreams. Similar comments could be made about designating something Dominican, for instance when there are no Dominicans involved at any concrete level. Having the prayers of the Master General hardly makes something Dominican in any sense at all — no more than having the prayers of the Pope makes something Papal or of those of one’s local Bishop makes something diocesan.

The bottom line here is that as you make clear in your initial response to my questions, there is really no community (fledgling or otherwise), no formation program, no concrete situation which real people are responding to, no supporting congregation, no actual founder and no concrete tie with the Dominicans which can be identified. Thus, at this point in time, such a project is a fiction and a fantasy and nothing more. The rest of what you describe uses some slippery language (all the letter of the law stuff) to distract from the void at the center of everything, but the bottom line remains the same: there is nothing real here.

I have never heard of a Dominican working on such a project in secret. Surely his provincial knows that he is helping you? If so, then it is hardly a secret and the provincial must be supporting the process in someway. You list your location as approximately Greensboro, North Carolina which means that you fall in the Province of St. Martin de Porres of the Order of Preachers. fr. Christopher T. Eggleton, O.P. is the Prior Provincial of the Southern Province. So, here is a simple and direct question. Is fr. Eggleton aware of, and supporting your efforts?

That is your opinion, and you are entitled to it.

There have been inquiries for the renewal, and until I have the friar’s permission I will not divulge his identity.

We are not a fraud. We are offering the possibility of renewing a charism. We are in contact with canonists, and the only way the renewal group will get resources is to show an effort so that the religious will see that they have a good chance of not wasting their time.

There are two schools of thought on the emergence of charisms–yours and those who share mine. There might be a gaping hole, but I see it as a hole in which a seed can be planted by those whom the Lord intends to send, should this renewal effort be His will.


Since you ignored it, I will ask again. Is the Prior Provincial for the Southern Dominican Province aware of your efforts, and he is supporting them?

There was a Canadian layman working with me, and he sent the website address to a lot of Dominican installations. Just who he sent it to, I’m not sure. I know the site has had hits from Dominicans, so I really don’t know.

I will see to the matter, though.


I did not ignore your question. It was part of the other answer.


No, it was not.

I will be forwarding the link you provided as well as a link to this thread to the Southern Province of the Dominican Friars.

I just said that the Canadian working with me sent the link to a number of Dominican installations, and I do not know if the Southern Provincial knows about it.


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