Sinsinawa Sisters Begin Capital Campaign
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 20, 2023
SINSINAWA, Wis.—In a time of change, the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters count their blessings.
“All of us, regardless of age or need, live in communities with access to nourishing food and quality health care,” they say on their website announcing a new capital campaign called “Mission Forward: 175 Years and Counting.”
“Though our median age is 82, we are still involved in more than 30 ministries at locations throughout the United States, Bolivia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Our land in southwest Wisconsin continues to give us both spiritual and nutritional fulfillment and provides a center for our ministry work. We sponsor seven schools and a women’s support center.”
And perhaps most importantly: “We currently have five women in the formation process for vowed life within our Congregation.”
Religious life in the United States continues to evolve, with some religious communities languishing for lack of vocations with a few, often newer, communities thriving. 
As reported in The Observer’s June 24, 2022 issue, the 1899 convent and the 1960s-built buildings at the Sinsinawa Mound campus were beginning to be marketed nationally with the hopes that they would, under new owners, continue to be used in ways that align with the ongoing mission of the Dominican sisters.
That article notes that if appropriate new owners are not found, “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.”
Realities behind Mission Forward
The sisters’ new capital campaign seeks to raise $20 million. More than $5 million has been raised to date, according to the website 
In 1966, the Sinsinawa Dominicans numbered 1,983. Today, there are approximately 300 sisters with an average age of 81-82. It is no surprise that the congregation is “stretched” to provide support for their sponsored schools and other ministries and to care for their aging sisters.
For several years, Sinsinawa leadership has consulted with numerous experts, collaborated and learned from other Dominican congregations, completed a feasibility study, and surveyed supporters.
Goals for the campaign
Mission Forward goals are geared to ensure the sisters’ mission continues. 
Formation of new members: $1 million.
The program to become a Sinsinawa Dominican is six to nine years in length. The cost of supporting the vocations office — including housing, education, travel, supplies and health care is about $225,000 per year. The fund will cover the costs for the next five years.
Lifelong care for all sisters: $12 million.
Of the current 300 or so sisters, more than 85 live in an assisted living, skilled care or memory care facility. Others need occasional support. Financial projections indicate the current Mother Samuel Coughlin Charitable Trust (MSCCT) will not be sufficient to support the sisters through their retirement years.
To reduce costs over time, the Sinsinawa Dominicans are partnering with Presbyterian Homes and Services to relocate about 100 sisters to a new residence in Muskego, Wis., in 2023. Those savings and the money raised will allow the MSCCT to provide holistic care for all the sisters beyond 2036.
Preserving and restoring the land: $2 million.
The sisters have over 450 acres of land, part of the Driftless Area geologic region with ravines, caves, limestone cliffs and mounds. Currently 200 acres are used for organic farming; several other acres have gardens and agricultural education. 
Other acreage includes mound buildings, cemeteries and natural land. The $2 million is targeted for a perpetual fund for the cemeteries, restore/protect the unique ecosystems at the Mound; and remodeling of the barn for agricultural education programs.
Sinsinawa Mound-based ministries: $3 million.
The Mound will continue to be the home of the congregation and its offices, with about 50 sisters living in community. Academy Apartments will continue to serve senior citizens, and St. Dominic Villa will remain a skilled nursing facility. A ministry center for the Dominicans’ ministries will continue. 
Renovations are planned for the buildings the sisters will continue to utilize: the Stone building and St. Clara Chapel and Westknoll. A new location will house Sinsinawa archives of 175 years of history to be maintained for future research and study. 
Renovations of the buildings include one new elevator, moderate interior renovations, new HVAC heating/cooling system, a laundry, communal kitchen, hazardous materials abatement, new restrooms and repair or replacement of systems and equipment.
National and international Dominican ministries: $2 million
The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa contribute to three national and international Dominican ministries:  
1) Dominican Veritas Ministries: a new canonical structure to unite more than 20 schools from eight Dominican congregations to support the schools and educate school leaders in keeping Dominican and Catholic values and traditions present in those schools.
2) Dominican Sisters Conference: a national organization that unites sisters and associates of U.S. congregations in their mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus.
3) Dominican Sisters International Confederation: in support of Dominican sisters who provide education, catechesis, formation or pastoral ministry in many developing countries.
Donations welcome
The pledge period for the Mission Forward Capital Campaign is three years; one-time donations are also welcome. Information from: the Office of Philanthropy, Director Barbara Brandt. 608-748-4411, ext. 273, or [email protected].
General information can be found at
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