When classes began on Aug. 24, UD students were greeted by a different combination of white and black on the mall: the white and black of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, a religious congregation more commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans. The Cistercian fathers, the Dominican fathers and the diocesan priests have contributed much to the academic and spiritual life on the campus for many years, but the presence of women religious, so prominent in UD’s early days, has been lacking in recent times.
This past spring, Associate Professor and Chairman of Theology Mark Goodwin extended an invitation to alumna Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P., to teach systematic theology full time at UD. This invitation led to a conversation between President Thomas Keefe and the Nashville Dominican Mother General, Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P., in which they discussed the possibility of a small community of sisters coming to serve at the University of Dallas.
As a result of this conversation, on Aug. 9, three Nashville Dominicans arrived in Irving and established a convent. Sister Mary Edith Humphries, O.P., another UD alumna, is teaching Literary Tradition I while continuing work on her doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare for The Catholic University of America; Sister Rosemary Esseff, O.P., is leading the Schola Rosa Mystica (a Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony choir) while also working on her doctoral dissertation in sacred music composition for the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, Italy; and Sister Jane Dominic, of course, is teaching theology.
The two alumnae sisters are happy to be back at UD.
“The caliber of the typical UD student makes teaching a joy. I’ve found myself invigorated after our class discussions on the Iliad,” said Sister Mary Edith. “It’s like a homecoming filled with the nostalgia of my own intellectual awakening. It is an honor to be here and to teach here.”
“It is such a wonderful gift to us to be here at UD,” said Sister Jane Dominic. “I think that one of the reasons our community wanted to send sisters here is that UD has blessed our community with nine sisters in perpetual vows. Vocations are taken seriously here, and the intellectual, spiritual and human formation received here really is invaluable. We are so grateful that we can now actively contribute to UD’s mission, giving back to this marvelous place that has given us so much.”
In the photo: Nine Nashville Dominican sisters in perpetual profession are UD alumnae; eight are pictured here, as Sister Anna Laura Karp, O.P., was at World Youth Day when the photo was taken.