The Heritage Center
Preserving the vast history of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, NY seems a daunting task, and yet the Sisters have done exactly that for over 170 years. Their efforts are displayed in the Motherhouse Heritage Center in Amityville.
In 1995, Sister Erica Burkhardt was asked to join Sister Frances Maureen as the Heritage Center historian. In 2015, upon Sister Erica’s retirement, Sister Margaret Kavanagh and Sister Denise Nolan became the Heritage Center’s guardians.
A ministry in history is multi-faceted; there are no “typical workdays.” Tasks vary. Maintaining online files, changing physical exhibits, and posting current events can be offset suddenly by unexpected inquiries from many sources: families of Sisters; adults who attended the Nazareth Trade School in Farmingdale; genealogists researching family history; and the media.
Tours (by appointment) are tailored to accommodate diverse groups: students, graduates of Dominican schools, parishes, donors, and Rosary Societies.
Sister Erica once noted, “We keep the stories. The postulant’s bonnet, habits, and dolls give insights into what has been. Photographs of hospital wards, schools, and orphanages portray our many ministries over the years.”
Please visit the Heritage Center’s YouTube channel:
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.