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University of Dallas Makes History: First to Host Permanent Convent for Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia

The University of Dallas, located in Irving, Texas, will become the first college or university to host a permanent convent for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, a teaching order of Catholic religious sisters also known as the Nashville Dominicans.

Several Sisters of St. Cecilia have taught at UD since 2016 and served the Diocese of Dallas since 2019. The Sisters also teach at Mary Immaculate Catholic Elementary School in Farmers Branch. However, they have relied on temporary residences since their arrival in Texas in 2016.

“For several years now, the University of Dallas has benefited from the excellent teaching and apostolic focus of the Sisters of St. Cecilia,” said University President Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD. “We are proud to become the permanent home of these faithful servants of God.”

The timeline for construction will be determined by meeting certain planning milestones and fundraising goals, and the university is working together with the congregation on planning, fundraising, construction and maintenance of the convent. The proposed convent will be located east of SB Hall to give the sisters privacy while also allowing ease of access to UD’s campus and religious neighbors, Holy Trinity Seminary, St. Albert the Great Priory & Novitiate, and Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey.

Sr. Catherine Anne Burleigh, OP, BA ’94, vicaress general for the congregation, expressed gratitude for the partnership.

“We are so grateful to the University of Dallas for its desire to provide a permanent convent on campus for our sisters teaching at UD and Mary Immaculate,” Sr. Burleigh said. “We know that the presence of religious sisters played an integral part in the founding and early days of the university, and we are humbled to be involved in such a wonderful community that takes seriously the pursuit of truth, wisdom and virtue.”

The University of Dallas already counts several Sisters of St. Cecilia among the faculty, including Sr. Mary Angelica Neenan, OP, affiliate assistant professor of theology, and Sr. Elinor Gardner, OP, affiliate assistant professor of philosophy.

The first group of Nashville Dominicans was invited by Sanford, at that time dean of the Constantin College of Liberal Arts, to teach at UD in 2016. The group included alumnae Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, BA ’92 MPsy ’21, and Sr. Mary Edith Humphries, OP, BA ’95.

Nine Nashville Dominican sisters in perpetual profession are UD alumnae. The UD alumni community includes over 100 men and women in various religious orders, as well as 12 bishops, six permanent deacons and more than 200 priests.

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