Everyone is familiar with those peculiar and whimsical moments when something completely unrelated to the task before you pops into your head — unannounced, unwanted, unwarranted — and it strikes you as a singular and particularly curious thought.
Just the other day, arms full of packages, I was entering my apartment when — hey presto! — into my head burst the thought, “the University of Dallas doesn’t have any nuns.” It’s a very strange thought. We used too. It is perhaps a little-celebrated fact that the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur were party to our founding in 1955. They, several laymen, the Cistercians and three Franciscans formed our original faculty (the Dominicans arrived in 1958). In 1962, our community was joined by a second order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, these orders are no longer with us. I humbly suggest — purely along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be nice?”, that there’s something sort of missing with their absence.
First, an argument might be made that there is a spiritual need for women religious. The men of the student body can turn to the school chaplains at Campus Ministry, the Dominicans at the Priory, the Men’s Opus Dei Center and our beloved Cistercian fathers for spiritual direction and for advice in those problems that confront us as men seeking God’s will. Naturally, the women of the student body can turn to all of these sources (or the feminine equivalent) for spiritual guidance. However, it remains the case that some problems that confront women are different, or strike women in different ways, then those that strike men. Not being a woman, I mean to tread carefully, but it seems reasonable to suggest that it might be helpful to have more than one option for the ladies of UD where they can talk to a spiritual guide woman to woman.
Speaking as a man, I can say that we too might benefit from the example provided by women religious, as demonstrated by male and female pairs throughout the Church’s history — Sts. Francis and Clare, Sts. Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross, and Sts. Benedict and Scholastica — come to mind. Even St. Thérèse of Lisieux advised her missionary brethren through letters.
Second, the Catholic population of North Texas, and the South in general, is growing at a considerable rate, and this increase means an increase in demands for Catholic services, which include everything from the Sacraments to Catholic education and centers of Catholic culture. Women religious are an integral part of Catholic culture, and if UD is to be at the forefront of serving and educating this larger population, women religious might be in order.
Third, a teaching and/or nursing order could have great practical benefits in our community life. They have a potential role in our Education Department and, with time and resources, UD might be able to offer an in-house, four-year nursing program, as opposed to the current five-year system that ships our nursing students over to Texas Women’s University. Also, such an order might open a health facility close to, or even on, UD’s campus, which would give the student body at large, and especially the pre-health community, greater opportunity to exercise Corporal Works of Mercy and garner experience in the medical field.
These are the reasons that UD should court the Brides of Christ. This courtship I suggest may very well be under way; I know not the minds of the administration. It would be a grand, long-reaching scheme involving a lot of work to get an order of women religious into the community. But, wouldn’t it be nice?