A unique partnership between the University of Dallas and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia has led to plans for a new, permanent convent on the UD campus. While the timeline for its construction has not yet been decided, when it is complete the sisters’ new convent will be the first of the community’s homes to be permanently hosted by a college or university.
Also known as the Nashville Dominicans, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are religious sisters who are dedicated educators. The University of Dallas was a natural choice for a partnership, as nine of the sisters in the community there are alumni of UD. Furthermore, the school has a history of graduating men and women destined for vocational life, boasting 12 bishops, six permanent deacons, and more than 200 priests.
The University of Dallas notes that the sisters have worked as teachers at UD since 2016 and have been invaluable servants in the Diocese of Dallas since 2019, teaching at a diocesan elementary school as well. Several of the sisters have already found permanent places on the UD faculty, including: Sr. Mary Angelica Neenan, OP, affiliate assistant professor of theology, and Sr. Elinor Gardner, OP, affiliate assistant professor of philosophy. In the time they’ve worked at UD, however, the sisters have lived in temporary housing.
In a statement, University President Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD, hailed the exceptional teaching skills of the sisters, while welcoming them to their new permanent home:
“For several years now, the University of Dallas has benefited from the excellent teaching and apostolic focus of the Sisters of St. Cecilia. We are proud to become the permanent home of these faithful servants of God.”
Sr. Catherine Anne Burleigh, OP, vicaress general for the congregation who received her BA from UD, commented on the plans for the coming convent:
“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 convent is still in the planning phase, but it has already been decided that it will be located east of SB Hall, a somewhat secluded area that will give the sisters some privacy in their living space. While private, the selected spot is said to have easy access to the campus, as well as neighboring religious communities.