By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America honored the Dominican Sisters of St. Dominic with this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award at a luncheon held at the Jackson Country Club.
Tony Haines has served as the chief executive officer for the Andrew Jackson Council of the scouts for twelve years and is described by some as a “huge fan” of the Dominican sisters and their work providing quality, compassionate care to the community.
The sisters of St. Dominic “save the lives of the individuals of this community … they save the community at times from itself, they impact the quality of lives in our area, and I would probably say outside of our area. They do a lot of good,” said Haines.
He also believes joy comes from their service to others.
“They pass along that joy to God. … They are leading lives that are very dedicated to Christ and dedicated to the community.”
Kay McRee says what makes St. Dominic so special is the Dominican sisters.
As the executive director of St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, McRee talked to those gathered at the luncheon about the history of the Dominican sisters beginning with the Jackson Infirmary in the center of the city in 1946.
Also, at the event celebrating the Dominican sisters of St. Dominic was Bishop Joseph Kopacz. Growing up in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, he was a part of “Troop 66” at his local parish starting with Cub Scouts and eventually becoming an Eagle Scout.
Bishop Kopacz also talked to the group gathered about merit badges, how special they are and how “blessed” he was during his eight years of scouting.
“There are very special merit badges in scouting – I believe they may still require merit badges like ‘Citizenship in the Community, in the Nation and in the World,’” said Bishop Kopacz.
“One of the connecting streams that hits me today, as we celebrate the sisters, here over 75 years here in the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the Diocese of Jackson, is that the commitment to community … is very strong.”
Speaking on the sisters and the team at St. Dominic, Bishop Kopacz touched on being admitted to St. Dominic Hospital for two days near the end of August for a kidney infection. He joked that he was “undercover Bishop,” as he served on the board for St. Dominic Health Services.
“But truly the care and compassion and the healing ministry is something special,” said Bishop Kopacz.
“We thank you and give praise to God for the gift of your presence here,” Bishop Kopacz told the sisters present.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the Dominican sisters was Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, who first arrived at St. Dominic Hospital in 1963. Leaving in 1983, she returned in 1995 to become president and chairman of the board of St. Dominic Health Services. She retired from that position in 2011 and took on a new role as associate executive director of St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, a position she still serves in today.
“We are here to serve and not to be served,” said Sister Dorothea. “So, this is a privilege for us to be honored here today.”
“Thank you for your support of our community for these 75 plus years and its been a great privilege for all of us.”