Ministry in Puerto Rico
Our Sisters in Puerto Rico
When the Dutch Dominican priests asked the Sisters of St. Dominic to establish religious education and open schools in Puerto Rico, they believed their stay would be temporary. Since then, over 300 Sisters have served as teachers, catechists, pastoral workers, counselors, and ministers to those in need.
The first six Sisters, sent by the Bishop of Brooklyn, sailed to Puerto Rico on August 25, 1910. These pioneers, Mother Hilaria, First Vicaress on the Island; Mother Anselma; Sister Tiburtia; Sister Agnes Koestler; Sister Beda Pfister; and Sister Emmerana were all missionaries for at least fifteen years with the exception of Mother Anselma, who was recalled to the Motherhouse to become Director of Novices.
Today, The Province is self-governing and self-supporting, and home to twenty Sisters who minister to local communities.
Located in Bayamon, 45 minutes from San Juan, Casa Familiar, DBA Asambelea Familiar Virgilio Davila, is a nonprofit organization administered by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville that provides an after-school program to 55 children ages 6-12 living in the Public Housing Project Virgilio Davila. Activities improve the quality of life for the children by offering an alternative to drug and alcohol abuse and encouraging them to stay in school.
Asambelea Familiar Virgilio Davila has assisted over 1,500 students over the past 31 years: increasing academic skills, offering sports and dance activities, addressing social/emotional issues, and providing a safe and secure environment.
The ties between Puerto Rico and Amityville are strong. Sister Providencia Perez, OP, Provincial for the Sisters in Puerto Rico, travels to the Motherhouse for special occasions.
The Sisters of St. Dominic remain as signs of hope to those they serve in the Province, as they continue to nurture a rich legacy in Puerto Rico.
In 1853, four Sisters from Holy Cross Monastery in Regensburg, Germany set sail for the United States to teach the children of German immigrants. Father Stephen Raffeiner of the Redemptorist Fathers in Manhattan offered shelter to Sisters Josepha, Augustine, Francesca, and Jacobina in the rectory basement of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y.
By the 1870s, the growing congregation moved to a farm on Long Island, and the Sisters became known as the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville. Their ministries met the changing needs of a growing population. In time, their work expanded throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Each unique ministry is committed to serving the poor and marginalized.