Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dominican Constitutions

Dominican Tree
To be officially recognized as belonging to the Dominican Tree a congregation needed to have its own constitutions approved by the Vatican or a local bishop.   After purchasing land and building institutions, the foundresses spent the better part of their later years researching and writing constitutions that would allow them to live an apostolic Dominican life.  Previous constitutions for women in the Dominican Order were written for the monastic life of the Dominican nuns and called for silence and strict enclosure.   In order for women to serve as teachers, nurses and social workers some practical modifications were needed.  Foundresses negotiated with the Vatican and the Dominican hierarchy and collaborated with each other to devise constitutions that would allow their members to live an authentic Dominican life while serving in an active apostolic ministry.  The first three congregations of apostolic women with constitutions approved by the local bishop were founded in 1822 in Springfield, Kentucky by Father Edward Fenwick; in 1844 in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin by Father Samuel Mazzuchelli; and in 1846 in Memphis, Tennessee by Mother Angela Sansbury.