The entire St. Catharine campus and the City of Springfield recently teamed up to create a walking path that will serve spiritual and fitness purposes.
Plans began for the Dominican Mile last winter and those plans are now coming to fruition.
The Dominican Mile began with St. Catharine College Associate Professor Peggy Tillman. Last winter she approached Dr. Harry Nickens, formerly a dean at St. Catharine College, about marking off a mile around the St. Catharine campus so that students in her lifetime fitness course would have a clearly marked walking path.
Nickens told Tillman he’d check with the Dominican Sisters of Peace to see if it was possible.
The sisters were fine with marking off a mile, Tillman said, but then the project took a spiritual turn.
"So it started out just as a walk and it ended up as something really, really special," Tillman said.
That something special is a mile-long, self-guided tour around the grounds of St. Catharine.
"The mile starts at Lourdes (Hall) and meanders by all of the buildings on the campus," Teresa Tedder, Dominican Mile committee member and professor at St. Catharine College, said.
That includes buildings at the college, the Motherhouse and Sansbury. A brochure, designed by Dominican Mile committee member and Dominican Sister of Peace Elaine DeRosiers, will provide historical information for the walker.
Tedder said the walk is important because of opportunities for fitness and contemplative moments.
"The actual physical ground, the earth here has been steeped since 1822 in the tradition of teaching and prayer and the four pillars of the Dominican Sisters’ ministry," Tedder said. "It is the hope that as people walk this, they reflect and think about that and absorb that and go away with that now as part of themselves."
Bettye Brookfield, Dominican Mile committee member and art professor at St. Catharine College, echoed those sentiments.
"When I walk it, I pray. I meditate. I think about someone who’s in my prayers," Brookfield said.
DesRosiers said a walk such as this is a great thing to have to combat the hectic pace of life.
"In these hectic times, the Sisters are pleased to make available to people a gentle walk through our very prayerful, historic grounds," she said.
The path that the Dominican Mile follows will be marked by a piece of limestone that includes a shell, which includes a Dominican torch.
Brookfield noticed that the limestone was put in a throw-away pile after being cut to use in the new Emily W. Hundley Library. She had the excess limestone set aside specifically for the Dominican Mile.
The shell, Brookfield said, was an idea she found in Europe.
The Way of St. James, or Camino de Santiago, is a spiritual journey or pilgrimage in Spain.
The marker indicates that the traveler is on the trail or that a hotel or hostel is nearby, among other things.
"We’re using that same idea for our pilgrimage," Brookfield said.
The Springfield Tourism Commisssion recently awarded
St. Catharine a grant to help defray some marketing and materials costs for the project.
"The City of Springfield and Springfield Tourism Commission are proud to be a part of the Dominican Mile project," Kathy Elliott, Springfield Tourism Commission Executive Director, said. "A new committee has come together recently that includes Springfield, Bardstown and Lebanon Tourism; Springfield Main Street Renaissance, the Sisters of Loretto, Nazareth and St Catharine. We are collaborating to create a new tourist attraction: ‘Kentucky’s Holy Land Tour- Have a religious experience.’" The Dominican Mile will be an extraordinary addition to this tour, not only for the history here, but for the beauty of this place. We look forward to the completion of this special venue."
The St. Catharine campus was incorporated into the city limits of Springfield in the last few years, creating this opportunity for a tourism grant.
The Dominican Mile committee members expressed deep appreciation to the City of Springfield, the Springfield Tourism Commission and members of the St. Catharine campus.
Work on the informational brochure has been underway since the conception of the Dominican Mile and details were being finalized at press time.
Founded in the Dominican tradition in 1931 and sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, St. Catharine College, a Catholic Dominican college inspired by its founders, welcomes all to the challenging pursuit of truth, preparing them to become critical thinkers, ethical leaders and engaged citizens.