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Two Congregations Become One

In June 2001, a joint committee was created to facilitate the process of merging the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, Washington, with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. On December 7, 2002, the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, at their 17th General Chapter, voted to merge with the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Approval was received from the Vatican in March 2003, making June 14, 2003, the effective date of the merger. On that date, Sisters of both Congregations renewed their vows as Adrian Dominican Sisters, Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary. A second celebration followed in Adrian on August 7, 2003.

Dominican Sisters of Edmonds

The early origins of both the Adrian and Edmonds Congregations are identical, with their common point in North America being the Dominican Convent of Holy Rosary in New York. In 1889, Father Henry Deichmann, pastor of Sts. Aegidius and Mary Church in the new town of Aberdeen in the Washington Territory contacted the Dominicans at Holy Rosary. While he desired that the local Catholic children have a Catholic education, the most pressing need in his parish came not from the German settlers, but from the loggers whose frequent and serious injuries underscored the need for a local hospital. Seven sisters from New York, again responding to the invitation to work for the coming of the reign of God, arrived in Aberdeen on September 1, 1890. They moved into three simple frame houses built on pilings over the tide flats. These three buildings became St. Rose Convent, St. Rose Academy, and St. Joseph Hospital. From these humble beginnings came the Province of St. Rose of the New York Congregation.

The sisters adapted to new and often demanding conditions. They often undertook arduous begging tours to lumber camps deep in the forested hills to raise money for their ministries. From the beginning, the sisters identified with the poor, spending long hours teaching and nursing as well as feeding the homeless, the out of work, and the downtrodden who knocked on their convent door. The work was hard, the hours long, the food meager, and tuberculosis claimed the lives of several of their number.

Beyond serving the needs of the children and the ill, the sisters sought to enrich lives by cultivating a love of beauty. They made music, art, and drama part of the Catholic experience and enriched the liturgies with choral and instrumental accompaniment. 

In 1923, the Province of St. Rose was separated from the Newburgh, New York, Congregation and became the independent Congregation of Holy Cross. St. Dominic Convent in Everett, Washington, was established as the Motherhouse of the new congregation. Sister Guilelma Stafford, OP, who years before had been the first postulant from the Northwest, was named the first Prioress General. Financial difficulties were such that some thought the new community would not last a year. They were proven wrong, however.

In 1956, the Motherhouse was moved to its present location at Rosary Heights in Edmonds, Washington. Thus, what were known in popular language as the "Everett Dominicans" became the "Edmonds Dominicans."

In subsequent years, the Congregation of Holy Cross continued to upgrade and expand its hospitals and schools, including the staffing of schools not only in Washington but also in California, Oregon and Montana. The community energetically developed its ministries, while individuals within the community were also recognized for their extraordinary talent.