By Sister Beth Murphy, OP
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Early in the morning on the day after she made her perpetual profession of vows as a Dominican Sister of Springfield, Sister Kelly Moline was in a car travelling back to Jackson, Mississippi, where she ministers as a chaplain in the COVID-strained St. Dominic’s Hospital.
The day before, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, a defining moment of Sister Kelly Moline’s life had come and gone. Beyond that moment, what follows is a lifelong commitment to her vows of consecration to God as a Dominican Sister of Springfield. That, of course, is not a small or simple thing. As Dominican Brother Timothy Radcliffe said while he was Master General of the Order of Preachers, “What we profess in a moment we live in to for a lifetime.”
This, Sister Kelly does not do alone. In addition to the grace of God which accompanies every person through life, she also has the support of her Springfield Dominican Sisters and a global Dominican Family that includes thousands of others who have been claimed for the Order of Preachers as sisters, brothers, ordained ministers and laity.
Sister Kelly’s parents, Kevin and Cindy Moline, of Glendale, Arizona, raised Sister Kelly and her brother Jay in Minnesota, Florida, Iowa and Missouri. “I was itinerant before I knew what that was,” Sister Kelly quipped, referring to the Dominicans’ desire to be willing to move anywhere to fulfill the preaching mission of the order.
In an interview for the new podcast, F.L.O.W.cast, Sister Kelly said, “There is a certain joy that comes in knowing you are where you are supposed to be.” She likes to quote the famous Dominican mystic St. Catherine of Siena who said “Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire.” Like the 14th Century Dominican, Sister Kelly seems to have found her place. “To be with the poor, to be with the sick, to provide them hospitality, that is what brought me joy,” Sister Kelly said.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from Missouri State University in 2005, Sister Kelly worked in continuing care retirement communities in St. Louis and Southbury, Connecticut, before taking the position that synced her coordinates with several Springfield Dominican Sisters.
“I moved to Springfield for work in 2009 and kept bumping into Springfield Dominicans,” she said in 2019. “I’d been thinking about religious life already. The joy I saw in those first three sisters I met — Sister Maxine, Sister Concepta and Sister Loyola — made me want to learn more about Dominican life.”
Sister Kelly began formation in Dominican consecrated life in 2013, giving three years toward prayer, study and ongoing discernment of her call to religious life. Her first year was focused on learning the basics of faith, religious life and the charism and history of the Order of Preachers. A second year was spent with other women discerning Dominican consecrated life in the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis. During the third year the focus was ministry, when she experienced the pillars of Dominican life — prayer, study, preaching and common life — alongside already-professed members of the congregation at various mission sites.
During that time, she accompanied English language learners at the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora, Illinois; learned the challenges of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation while ministering alongside Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz at Our Lady of the Sioux Parish, Oglala, South Dakota; was introduced to the life and ministry of our sisters in Jarpa and Lima Peru; and spent time with our sisters who carry out a variety of ministries at St. Dominic Hospital and St. Catherine’s Village in Jackson. It is there she now ministers, serving as a chaplain’s assistant at St. Dominic’s.
After professing her first vows in 2016, Sister Kelly completed a master’s degree in pastoral studies at Catholic Theological Union while living in community with Springfield Dominican Sisters at St. Martin de Porres Convent in Chicago.
During Sunday Mass on the feast of the founder of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic de Guzman, Sister Kelly knelt in the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Convent Chapel, placed her hands in the hands of Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, the congregation’s prioress general, and proclaimed the vows that Dominicans have proclaimed for centuries:
I, Sister Kelly Moline, make profession, and promise obedience to God, to Blessed Mary, to Blessed Dominic, and to you, Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, the Prioress General of our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, and to your successors, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of this congregation. I will be obedient to you and your successors until death.
“With these ancient words, Sister Kelly became the most recent in a long line of women and men who have been drawn by God toward a life of prayer, study, common life and preaching,” said Sister Elyse Ramirez, who has accompanied Sister Kelly as director of initial formation for the Springfield Dominicans. “Sister Kelly’s yes puts her in good company. Her commitment is a courageous one at this time of such dramatic change in the church and the world. We are so happy to have her alongside us and encourage other women to consider the same rewarding, challenging path.”
To learn how you can become a member of the Dominican Family visit https://springfieldop.org/join-us/ or contact Sister Denise Glazik at email@example.com.
(The Dominican Sisters of Springfield are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have preached the Gospel in word and deed. The Springfield Dominicans were established in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1873 and relocated to Springfield in 1893. Today, thousands of Dominican sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world.)