Dominican Sisters’ “I Was Here” event is in memory of the people they enslaved

As a memorial to the people who were historically enslaved at the Kentucky Dominican Farm and Motherhouse, the Dominican Sisters of Peace will host the “I Was Here” Project Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Motherhouse in Springfield, Ky.

The event is part of the sisters’ 200th anniversary observance.

Dominican Sister Barbara Sullivan, who serves on the event’s organizing committee, said three religious communities gathered in the year 2000 to apologize for enslaving people. Hosting the “I Was Here” Project is an extension of that.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of Loretto and the Dominicans “held a joint prayer service in Bardstown in which we all acknowledged we had been slave owners in the beginning and we asked for forgiveness,” Sister Sullivan explained. “In part of growing out of that history, in part of our 200th anniversary, we know we certainly did own slaves.”

She said that the Dominican Sisters have recently done more research to learn about the “history of slavery in the area as it connected to us.”

The “I Was Here” Project seeks to reframe the conversation around racism and slavery through the lens of art, according to its website. The event also will include a ritual, ceremony and sacred songs.

The Dominican Sisters want to “remember and honor the African Americans who were with us,” said Sister Barbara Sullivan. “It’s called ‘I Was Here’ to say exactly that. They were present, they were part of our local history. We want to remember and honor them.”

Dominican Sister Judy Morris added, “We will remember people of color who enabled us to begin teaching young families in Kentucky and eventually expand beyond its borders.”

One of the sisters will provide a narrative during the event, “connecting the whole purpose of why we’re doing this and part of the narrative of why it’s important to the Dominican Sisters of Peace,” Sister Sullivan said. There will also be sacred music.

All are invited. Call St. Catharine Motherhouse at 859-336-3482 to reserve seating. A reception will follow the presentation; there is no fee to attend.

Kayla Bennett
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Kayla Bennett
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