JAM Exhibit Highlights Dominican Sisters of Spfild’s Origins in Jacksonville in150th Year

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 30, 2023 at 1:01pm

A temporary exhibit coming to town tells the history of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield and their connection to Jacksonville, although you might be surprised via which Springfield.

The Jacksonville Area Museum is featuring a new exhibit titled, “Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois: Celebrating 150 years for the Life of the World” which will have a soft opening this Saturday and will be on display through July 31st.

The Dominican Sisters are celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2023 and contacted Museum Manager McKenna Servis last year to say they wanted to hold the celebratory exhibit back where it all started- here in Jacksonville.

In 1873, six Dominican Sisters were sent to Jacksonville from the Covenant of St. Cathrine of Sienna, near Springfield, Kentucky, to assume responsibility for teaching a large population of Irish immigrant children whose fathers were building the railroad.

Servis says the exhibit tells the story of their time in Jacksonville consisting of six exhibit panels and a case of artifacts. “The exhibit tells the story from beginning to now, but all of the artifacts are early and directly connected to Jacksonville artifacts. They have a really cool drawing of the original Mother House with its location on it, so see if you can find it. They made a wonderful video and wonderful panels put up, and it’s really well done, it looks really nice.”

The exhibit also includes historic photographs, publications, medallions, and dolls attired as Dominican Sisters during different periods of their history, and eventual move to Springfield, Illinois.

The exhibit was developed by the Dominican Sisters and installed by the Sisters and the Jacksonville Area Museum.

Jacksonville Area Museum Board Chairman Allan Worrel said in the exhibit announcement, the museum board is proud to host this exhibit that speaks not only to those of the Catholic faith but to anyone who is interested in learning about this important, but often overlooked, aspect of our local and area history.”

The Dominican Sisters exhibit may be viewed during the museum’s regular hours of operation on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. at the museum located in the old post office on East State Street in downtown Jacksonville.

The grand opening of the exhibit will be held Saturday, April 22nd, with several of the sisters present as well as an official proclamation by the Mayor. Also planned that day is a wreath-laying ceremony at Calvary Cemetary on Lincoln Avenue at 1:30 pm, followed by Mass at the Church of Our Saviour at 4:30 pm.