St. Cecilia Dominicans

By: OSV Newsweekly

Talk about good news. I recently received the quarterly magazine published by the Dominican Sisters of the St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville. Last summer, 11 new sisters professed perpetual vows in the community, and another 13 professed first vows.

(Perpetual vows are for life. First vows are for three years — time for a woman to decide if she truly feels that God is calling her to the religious life.)

The Dominican sisters taught me for eight years at Overbrook School in Nashville. I have two memories of my first day in first grade. The first is that it was raining cats and dogs! The other is of the sisters. They have been a welcomed part of my life since that day, thanks be to God.

The St. Cecilia Congregation formed in Nashville in 1860. In the following year, 11 states withdrew from the Union and formed the Confederacy. Tennessee was one of them. In April 1861, the Civil War began.

Nashville was the first Confederate state capital to fall to the Federal army. Locally, it was not a happy event. In the 1861 referendum that preceded Tennessee’s secession, the people of Nashville voted 7-1 to join the Confederacy.

Keeping the lid on the boiling pot was difficult for the Union forces. They closed all the schools, among other things, but they allowed one school to continue to operate: the Dominican Sisters’ St. Cecilia Academy, which is still going strong today, incidentally.

Why did the sisters receive special favor? They helped all people hurt by the war. They just went about their duties of teaching the young how to be faithful Catholics and productive adults.

The sisters still fulfill this mission very well. The once little St. Cecilia Academy has grown into a network of Catholic schools across the country. Also, the sisters are in British Columbia, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, and in New South Wales and Victoria in Australia.

Given the history of communities of women religious in the past 50 years, many Catholics ask what makes the Nashville Dominicans different. While they routinely receive candidates, other congregations have not had an application in years.

To my knowledge, no professional study has looked at the question. Some surmise that the Dominicans’ success lies in these facts: The sisters still wear the historic Dominican habit; they live and pray in communities; and they serve one basic objective in apostolic ministry, namely education and the religious formation of youth.

I am no expert. I cannot deny that these particular features may appeal to some who choose to join the sisters. After a lifetime of observing the sisters, I can say with certainty that their personal longing to be one with the Lord — expressly developed in a genuine feeling of being bonded with and serving the Church, and an enthusiasm about Catholicism, as it is and not as some may prefer it to be — must play a very important role.

This is interesting. Many women come to the Dominicans from careers: attorney at law, chemist, ballerina. They made the grade in the big, wide world, but they realized that what they had seen and what they had “achieved” was chalk. Several are converts. Many had presumed that one day they would be spouses and parents. All thought about life.

They simply loved God and wanted to be with God, in every way.

When I was ready for school, my mother took me to Overbrook to register me for the term ahead. Another rainy day! Sister Marie de Lourdes, then the principal, long since gone to God, met us. Small boy that I was, something about her impressed me. God bless that special something about the St. Cecilia Dominicans.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Understanding Pope Francis’ outreach to Muslims

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
By: Jordan Denari Duffner Eight hundred years ago, in the midst of the Crusades, St. Francis of Assisi crossed battle lines in Egypt to see a... Read More

Finding True Joy

Monday, February 18, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo I’m not sure where I first heard the suggestion that Christians need to think about the word “joy” as an... Read More

Opening the Word: Blessings and woes

Friday, February 15, 2019
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley In this column, I often have cautioned against our mishearing of familiar scriptural passages. When we hear the... Read More

Canon lawyers debate excommunication

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
By: Brian Fraga If it were up to many frustrated Catholics who follow the news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York already would be excommunicated.... Read More

Winter musings

Monday, February 11, 2019
BY: Robert P. Lockwood Four items plus one in search of a late-winter column: 1. Plasma therapy: Ambrosia Health offers “young plasma... Read More

Opening the Word: The least of these

Friday, February 8, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Jesus, the one who has come to fulfill the messianic prophecy of Isaiah, seeks out missionary companions. But instead of... Read More

Editorial: NY abortion bill is nothing to celebrate

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
By: OSV Editorial Board was a hideous image: the top of One World Trade Center — a structure literally built on the ashes of men, women and... Read More

A breath of fresh air

Monday, February 4, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo The last few weeks in the media have been like none I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been in this industry for nearly... Read More

Opening the Word: Prophetic discipleship

Friday, February 1, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley OSV Newsweekly Jesus’ prophetic career seems to get off to a rocky start. Standing up in the synagogue in Nazareth,... Read More

‘We must keep marching for life every day’

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
By: OSV Staff OSV Newsweekly Hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters attended the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18,... Read More