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OPening Word Program

The OPening Word Program teaches English, citizenship and job skills to immigrant women from around the world!  Founded in 1991 by Sisters Mary Ryan and Margaret Briody, the Opening Word began with only five students in Wyandanch. Today, this program has helped thousands of women at three sites including: Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish in Wyandanch, Queen of the Rosary Motherhouse, Amityville (here in the lower level), and St. Hugh of Lincoln Parish in Huntington Station. Joined by wonderful lay teachers and volunteers, many sisters continue to teach and volunteer in this ministry! Opening Word is one of our congregation’s sponsored ministries.

REFLECTION:  “The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.” – Thomas Berry

The “OP”ening Word Program is one of the Congregation’s sponsored ministries (“OP” stands for Order of Preachers or the Dominican Order). One of their three campuses is located here in the basement of the Motherhouse with an entrance behind the garden with St. Dominic’s statue; the others are located in Huntington and Wyandanch.

The program strengthens the English language skills. It also focuses on family development and health literacy and empowers participants to improve their self-image. The program provides job-readiness and post-secondary education experiences and prepares eligible students for citizenship. Thousands of women have attended Opening Word and our students hail from countries around the world. Our volunteers are retired teachers, sisters and lay volunteers who hold multiple degrees, many in education and administration and work with teaching staff, caseworkers, and a Post-Secondary Transition Program (PSTP) teacher.

For more information, go to the OPening Word website. Scroll down a little to view videos about Opening Word. Go to the Opening Word Program YouTube page to view videos of students sharing their experience in the program.

Other stops on the trail:

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Welcome to the Dominican Pause Walking Tour at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.

This walk is important to our congregation because our Founder St. Dominic de Guzman was a walking preacher – a joyful itinerant! St. Dominic preached the Good News of Jesus’ love to all. On this journey, you also are invited to take a “Dominican Pause”, to read the markers which include a bit of our history as well as reflections to help to exercise your mind, spirit, and body in this easy mile loop around our Motherhouse grounds. 

If you are walking the path of the trail at the Motherhouse, please watch your step and be aware of cars.

Before beginning this tour, we would like to acknowledge how special this land is to all the people who have dwelled here. We raise a thankful prayer to all of creation and to the Indigenous tribes who inhabited this land for thousands of years; the African American settlers who built the first black church on Long Island – Bethel AME – in 1843, just one mile south on Albany Avenue; and all those who farmed and cared for this land before it was donated by the Schlegel family in 1876 to the Amityville Dominican Sisters. Blessings also to all those who find their way here now: to worship, to help, to educate, to learn, and to encounter each other as family. 

If you notice, there are “Dominican paws” on the map of our Dominican Pause Tour. Although it is unknown if St. Dominic had a pet dog, our Founder is often featured with a pup carrying a torch in its mouth. Before Dominic was born, his mother Jane of Aza (Juana) had a vivid dream. She envisioned her child born as a dog with a lit torch that set the world aglow! A monk told her the torch was a symbol of the Word of God, and her son would become a great preacher! The word Dominican has even been viewed as a playful nod to the Latin phrase “domini canes”  which means “dogs of the Lord.”

Since the Sisters' arrival in 1853 in Brooklyn, the Sisters of St. Dominic have carried that torch of illumination and have cared for the most vulnerable in our society, teaching immigrant children and founding schools. The Amityville presence begins in 1875 with a donation of 83 acres from Mr. Schlegel and Mother Seraphina’s purchase of the adjacent 19-acre farm “for a big convent." 

Below is the map of the self-guided tour. Follow the arrows and paw prints or feel free to visit the different stops in a different order. Scroll down to view the videos below with tours of the Motherhouse grounds and the story of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.

Enjoy and thanks for taking our tour!

Other stops on the trail: