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The Dominican Sisters currently serving the hospital at the statue’s unveiling. They are Sister June Volpe, Sister Celestine Rondelli, Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, Sister Karina Dickey, Sister Trinita Eddington, Sister Thecla Kuhnline and Sister Kristin Rever. | Image: St. Dominic’s

St. Dominic Hospital celebrates its 70th anniversary today.

This date marks the arrival of a group of Dominican Sisters from Springfield, Illinois in Jackson, Mississippi to assume responsibility for what was then known as the Jackson Infirmary. This original hospital was located on Amite Street in downtown Jackson.

In the book, “The Love of Christ Impels Us,” Sisters Susan Karina Dickie and Josephine Therese Uhll provide some of the background leading up to the arrival of the Dominican sisters to Jackson.

“On a hot August day in 1943, two men from Jackson, Mississippi, set off for Vicksburg. Somehow the conversation turned to the subject of hospitals. Sergeant Leon Thomas and his companion, Jack Kennington, felt that the facilities in Jackson left something to be desired. Kennington recalled his stay at a Catholic hospital in Colorado Springs. It had been a good experience and he found the sisters who ran the place to be professional, efficient and dedicated.”

Not long after assuming operations of the infirmary, the Dominican sisters saw that there would be an ever-increasing need and started the process of looking to expand the hospital. Through continued community backing and relentless perseverance, St. Dominic Hospital opened on its present location in 1954, and has been a pillar of the Fondren neighborhood ever since.

With change and growth for the Jackson hospital and the industry as whole, St. Dominic’s has remained true to the pioneer Sisters’ vision of providing a Christian healing ministry to the people of Mississippi. Currently, seven Dominican Sisters serve locally in the St. Dominic’s ministry.

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Sugg’s statue | Image: St.Dominic’s

To commemorate the occasion, an unveiling was held yesterday of a statue created by sculptor Tracy Sugg. The life-size likeness of a pioneer Dominican Sister titled, Dominican Sister, A Life Given in Service, honors the many donors who have supported the St. Dominic’s ministry over the years. In the past, grateful patients, families and friends helped to support St. Dominic’s by purchasing commemorative plaques placed on doors throughout the hospital. As the hospital changed to meet patient needs, many plaques were left with no place to be displayed. Sugg used the bronze from these plaques to create the statue.

The Sister in the sculpture is depicted stepping down with one hand outstretched. The representation conveys the essence of the Sisters’ desire to not be on a pedestal, but rather to serve in Christ’s love.

“This sculpture honors our many friends and represents the donor recognition plaques placed throughout the hospital in prior years,” said Lester K. Diamond, President of St. Dominic Hospital. “I cannot think of a better way to commemorate St. Dominic’s 70th anniversary than this distinctive representation of what we hope to embody as an organization.”

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