Having established their first mission in Michigan in 1877, the Dominican Sisters of the Second Street Convent in New York City sent a second small band of sisters there the ensuing year, and as the first mission was in the northern section of the state– at Traverse City– the second was in the southern section, at Adrian, where sisters at once began their labors in educational work in St. Mary’s School, and in the folowing year, 1879, augmented by additional sisters from New York, also opened St. Joseph’s School.
At this time plans were made for the opening of a hospital at St. Joseph’s, which, however, developed into a home for the aged, of which the sisters were in charge for a number of years.
Among the sisters from New York forming the pioneer Dominican community which arrived in Traverse City in 1877 was Sister M. Camilla, destined to become one of the foremost religious educators of the times, who after participating in the initial work of the community in Traverse City suffered a severe illness, following which she was recalled to New York and later missioned to New Jersey where she was active in the affairs of the Dominican missions in Paterson and Greenville for a period of ten years, interrupted by a second mission in Michigan, where she was in charge of a school in Bay City for two years.
At the end of her eighth in Greenville, New Jersey, Mother Camilla was sent to southern Michigan not only to take charge of the sisters’ home for the aged at Adrian, but later to become first Provincial Superior of the Province of St. Joseph upon its establishment in the diocese of Detroit by the Congregation in New York.
Following the establishment, in 1891, of the convent in Adrian as the seat of the new province of the Congregation, a novitiate was opened, and in April 1893, the first reception took place when four postulants received the habit of the Sisters of St. Dominic.
In the work of the development of St. Joseph’s Academy– a day and boarding school connected with what in time has become the Motherhouse, of the present Congregation in Adrian– Mother Camilla was encouraged and assisted by Dr. Charles O’Reilly, a priest of great intellectual attainments, who had been transferred from St. Patrick’s parish in Detroit to St. Mary’s in Adrian, and to whose efforts is due, in great part, the steady rapid growth of the student enrollment of the academy during its first years.
The almost phenomenal growth of the Community at Adrian permitted a wide expansion in the activities of the sisters, as missions were opened far beyond the confines of their home state and home diocese of Detroit, where, under the patronage of its present bishop, the Right Rev. Michael J. Gallagher, D.D., the Sisters of St. Dominic from Adrian conduct many parochial schools, in addition to maintaining St. Joseph’s College and Academy at their Motherhouse.
Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic (Adrian, Michigan).
Established in 1878.
Approximate number in Community, 800.
Active in educational work in the archdioceses of Chicago and Santa Fe and in the dioceses of Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Marquette, Rockford, St. Augustine and Toledo.
Motherhouse and Novitiate, St. Joseph’s Convent, Adrian, Michigan. (Diocese of Detroit.)
Elinor Tong Dehey, Religious Orders of Women in the United States (Revised Edition) (Hammond, IN: W.B. Conkey, 1930), 153-155.