our ministry

We share with others the Word of God — words of life and hope — through our many diverse ministries.

aquinas college


The 2016 Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new chapel at Aquinas: Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel.

Aquinas College is one of our hallmark ministries. Our relationships with leadership, faculty, staff, alumnae, and students enrich all of our lives. 

To truly appreciate Aquinas’ rich heritage, one must know something of the Dominican Sisters who laid the solid foundation on which the College is built. In 1886, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids established the novitiate normal school to which Aquinas College traces its beginnings. In 1931, the school became the first Catholic college in America to introduce coeducation and was reorganized as Catholic Junior College. 

The College began to operate as a four-year institution in 1941. It was renamed in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican scholar and teacher considered to be one of the most brilliant minds of the 13th century and one of the most influential thinkers in the history of the Catholic church.

Read more about our history as the founders of Aquinas College.

legacy of education

Throughout the 1800s and much of the 1900s Sisters staffed parochial schools in the United States. Beginning in the 1970s, however, societal and ecclesial shifts changed the landscape of these ministries. Sisters acquired positions in various schools and hospitals that were not sponsored by parishes or dioceses. Wherever they found work, Sisters continued to teach and serve in schools and parishes throughout Michigan, New Mexico, Hondurus and Peru. 

In Grand Rapids… By 1915, The Grand Rapids Herald wrote that [Mother Mary Aquinata’s]  legacy to the community included “forty-two schools, three academies, the orphanage, and two Catholic Central high schools.”

In Saginaw and Bay City…

In Traverse City and throughout Northern Michigan…

In New Mexico… In 1925, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids arrival-in-new-mexicoreceived a request to teach, minister, and serve in New Mexico. Our Sisters embraced the challenges, loved the work, and formed lifelong bonds with the people of New Mexico. Today, 10 Sisters currently serve the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in salaried and volunteer positions  in schools and parishes, and in public agencies and institutions. 



Study is an essential component of our Dominican life and mission. It informs our ministry, enriches our common life and is integral to our prayer. We commit ourselves to formal and informal study in order to bring careful consideration to decision concerning our life and mission. ~Constitution #17

The truth we seek is found in all reality. Our study is not confined to any one discipline, but leads us to attend with reverence to the manifestation of God’s presence in the whole of creation. ~Constitution #18

Study Resources

Dominican Center at Marywood and our Center for Spirituality and Contemplative Learning Programs

Dominican Center at Marywood Bookstore