Sinsinawa Mound Begins Transition
June 23, 2022
SINSINAWA, Wis.—The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa have served in the Diocese of Rockford before there was a Diocese of Rockford, coming to the area in 1871 to staff a school at St. Mary Parish in Freeport. They have continued to serve and be a presence since that time. Most recently, Sinsinawa Dominican sisters have resided in East Dubuque. 
The order was founded in 1847 by Dominican Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, a pioneering missionary in the Tri-State area of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa who built and/or designed churches from Green Bay to Iowa City, including St. Michael Church in Galena. Since the order’s beginning, nearly 3,400 women have made vows as Sinsinawa Dominicans. 
“Sinsinawa Mound will remain as our Motherhouse and as a center of ministry.”
—Prioress Sister Toni Harris, OP
The sisters’ work in the region in the last 175 years has brought great value, but as has been happening in many religious orders, with fewer vocations, sisters and staff, the expansive Sinsinawa Dominican campus in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin just north of Menominee and northeast of Dubuque and East Dubuque is no longer being fully used. 
The congregation has been pondering for more than a year about their property. They now are working with the real estate brokerage team Cushman & Wakefield | Boerke to transition ownership of some of their buildings at Sinsinawa Mound. The goal is to reuse the existing buildings in ways that align with the ongoing mission of the Dominican Sisters.
The buildings being marketed nationally include the 1899 St. Clara Convent and the 1964 buildings, which house an industrial kitchen, dining room, a pool/wellness area, single bedroom suites, community room living spaces, and offices. Being marketed also is the distinctive, mid-century architecture of the Rotunda, housing Queen of the Rosary Chapel, a 500-seat auditorium, library, exhibit areas, and office space.
The Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters plan to maintain a community presence at Sinsinawa into the foreseeable future. However, as part of this transition, a majority of the sisters will move to an assisted living center near Milwaukee in Muskego, Wis., in 2023. Twenty to 30 Sisters will continue to live and work at Sinsinawa and occupy the remaining Mound buildings and facilities: the St. Clara Chapel, the Stone Building, Westknoll, and Rachel House. 
The Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm, as well as other ecological initiatives, will continue to utilize the natural beauty and unique character of Sinsinawa Mound. Workshops and retreats will continue, and the congregation is exploring options for maintaining the bakery — a popular feature at the Mound. 
The Academy Apartments will continue to serve as housing for senior citizens, and sisters needing skilled care will continue to reside at St. Dominic Villa. 
If the current initiatives fail to find an appropriate new owner, the congregation plans to begin deconstruction of the marketed buildings in 2023, preserving the most valuable assets and returning the sites to their natural state as much as possible. 
“We are positioning ourselves for a more sustainable future,” said Prioress Sister Toni Harris, OP. “Sinsinawa Mound will remain as our Motherhouse and as a center of ministry, and we will continue to have a presence in southwest Wisconsin.” 
Visit to learn more about details of the congregation’s plans for the buildings at Sinsinawa Mound. 
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