This year, the University of Dallas welcomed Sisters Jane Dominic Laurel, Rosemary Esseff and Mary Edith Humphries.
The three sisters are members of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, also known as the Nashville Dominicans.
Initially, Associate Professor Dr. Mark Goodwin extended an invitation for Sister Jane Dominic to teach theology at UD.
This led to a conversation between President Thomas Keefe and Mother General Ann Marie Karlovic about establishing a small convent of three sisters at UD.
Sister Jane Dominic is an alumna of UD, though she initially had a very different plan for her life.
“I wanted to go to the Rhode Island Design School for architecture but my parents said, ‘No way, you can’t go out of state,’ and then I just applied to the school my sister was going to,” Sister Jane Dominic said.
At UD, Sister Jane Dominic was an English major, and she chose Shakespeare for her Junior Poet project.
Sister Jane Dominic began discerning her vocation while attending graduate school.
“At first I thought my vocation was marriage,” Sister Jane Dominic said. “I was engaged to be married to another UD student, but in the process of grad school, the intellectual and spiritual formation I was receiving, I recognized that God was actually calling me to religious life.”
Sister Rosemary attended the Catholic University of America, and majored in music. She began discerning the religious life at the end of her senior year in college.
Sister Rosemary is currently working on her doctoral dissertation in sacred music composition for the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, Italy.
While at UD, she is leading the Schola Rosa Mystica — a Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony choir.
“I really love working with students in the Schola,” Sister Rosemary said. “I’m just so surprised how welcoming and so eager and dedicated and disciplined the community is. It’s just a wonderful college, a wonderful community with really strong morals and strong faith, and intelligent application of the intellect of the will. It’s what a col lege should be.”
Sister Jane Dominic also had high praise for UD.
When asked what her favorite experience at UD has been thus far, she responded,
“Being in the classroom and having the opportunity to teach students who are so engaged and intelligent, who ask insightful questions and have a real love for learning and love for their faith [has been my favorite experience at UD]. We’re a community of teachers so our community is dedicated to Christian education of youth.”
She also commented on the events that took place during this year’s Charity Week.
“We saw so much unity and goodness during Charity Week,” Sister Jane Dominic said. “The playfulness is a great balance to the intensity of study.”
That balance of playfulness is an important part of the Sisters’ lives.
“There’s a particular joy that our sisters seem to bring when they go places that people seem to notice,” Sister Rosemary commented. “I think it’s genuine.”
“People see us laughing and they want to come up and join us.” Sister Jane Dominic added.
“I think the presence of religious, especially in an everyday environment, has such an impact on young people for them to consider the possibility of their own life and their own vocation,” freshman Hannah Guth said. “It being such a constant presence is very important as a daily witness.”
Sophomore Daniel Orth also welcomed the change.
“What I think the sisters bring to the campus is someone else to talk to, who [has] the benefit of a wider experience, and maybe a closer connection with Jesus,” Orth said. “The sisters almost always have time to just chat with you.”
The sisters eat lunch together in the cafeteria on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and eat dinner after the Thursday evening Mass.
They are always happy to share a conversation with anyone wanting to join them for a meal.