Abell, Sr. Jane, O.P. (Sr. James Marie Abell, O.P.) +
06/28/1928 – 04/20/2019
Sr. Jane (Sr. James Marie) was born in Houston and attended St. Agnes Academy for three years. After her family moved to Shreveport, she graduated from St. Vincent’s High School in 1945. She entered our congregation in 1948 and served for 71 years. Sr. Jane earned a B.S. from Dominican College in Houston, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Texas in Austin, and an M.A. in Theology from Notre Dame. She continued her extensive religious studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and later learned Spanish at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.
As a secondary teacher Sr. Jane ministered at St. Agnes Academy and St. Pius X High School in Houston and at St. Paul Catholic High School in California. She then served as formation director for the community, as campus minister at the University of Houston, and as pastoral minister at Our Lady of St. John parish. In 1978, the congregation elected Sr. Jane prioress, and she served two terms. In 1987, she became Promoter of Justice and Peace and Care of Creation for the community and served in this capacity until 2010. Sr. Jane worked with immigrants and community leaders to fight against human trafficking and racism. She organized educational and experiential trips to Guatemala, made pilgrimage to El Salvador in memory of St. Oscar Romero and the four murdered church women, and accompanied refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala to find a home in Houston. Sr. Jane went to Iraq with the first delegation of Dominicans called Voices of Veritas and participated in a month of fasting, praying, and witnessing in Union Square in New York City for peace and non-violence in Iraq in 2002. A deep faith and prayer life sustained these many services as well as her great love for God and community.
Bailey, Sr. Mary Kay, O.P. (Sr. M. Edwin Bailey, O.P.) +
08/04/1937 – 05/17/2015
Sister Mary Kay Bailey was born in Kilgore, Texas. Her parents Leona Gertrude Sessinghaus-Bailey and John Edwin Bailey moved their family from Kilgore to Houston when she was young. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School. She attended St. Agnes Academy, graduating in 1955.
Becoming a Dominican Sister was something she was called to. “Becoming a sister is not where I was headed. I was planning on attending medical school in Alabama.” After graduation Sister Mary Kay drove a few friends who were considering entering the convent into Houston to meet with Mother Adeline. During her visit with her friends, Mother asked her why she was not entering. She told Mother Adeline of her plans and Mother replied to her, “If you join us you could teach many people to be doctors.” That summer Sister Mary Kay became ill and during her recovery she kept thinking about the words of Mother Adeline. Sister Mary Kay entered the convent in the fall of 1955.
Sister Mary Kay’s first teaching position was at St. Peter of the Apostle in Houston, Texas, where she taught the fifth grade. She has spent years in the classroom in La Marque, Texas, as well at St. Pius X High School, Galveston Dominican High School and O’Connell Junior High School. During this time she enjoyed teaching journalism. She was also interested in theology and after her year at O’Connell she took sabbatical to study theology.
Her study of theology was a turning point for her. She took courses at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Sister Mary Kay helped paved the way for other women religious as one of the first women accepted to the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio where she took classes. She received her Masters in Theology in 1972.
While working on her degree she took the Director of Religious Education position at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in San Antonio. “I really became interested in adult formation. I served in this role for six years.” Religious education was very exciting for her, especially during this time. “It was a wonderful feeling helping people who had been educated pre-Vatican II to connect with the church and its teachings after the change.”
She spent the following years as parish Pastoral Coordinator at the San Angelo Cathedra and St. Therese Catholic Church in Carlsbad. While in the diocese of San Angelo, Sister Mary Kay served on the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of Houston from 1998-2004. This was an enjoyable time in her life as well. She was learning Spanish. “This was a challenge I loved. I was able to preach and work with others who needed help. I really enjoyed the connection I had to the people in Carlsbad.
Sister May Kay retired in 2012 and came back to Houston. She currently lives at St. Dominic Villa, where she continues to further her knowledge by continuous reading of theology and liturgy. She feels she connects with the Pillar of Study. “It is nourishment for me.” She continues to enjoy her journey of being a Dominican Sister. It has been a journey, a constant transition, therefore growth.”
Biddle, Sr. Kelly, O.P.
Sister Kelly was born in Orange, Texas. She lived with her family in Bridge City, Texas and has a large extended family. “We are a very loving family.” Sister Kelly attended Hatton Elementary and Bridge City Junior and Senior High. “I never knew a sister growing up. I like to say the first nun I knew was Whoopi Goldberg.” Sister Kelly attended Rice University in Houston and that is where she met Sister Kitty Carter, O.P.
Sister Kelly entered as a novice in August of 2011. “I was called to the life of service. I fell in love with the Dominican charism of preaching and the idea ‘contemplate and give to others the fruits of your contemplation’. After getting to know the Dominicans, I kind of fell in love with the sisters, too.”
Sister Kelly’s only ministry as a sister has been teaching biology and genetics at San Jacinto Community College. Before taking that position she had been a Dominican volunteer in Columbus, Ohio with the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs/Dominican Sisters of Peace. She worked on a farm there and at an adult learning center, helping adult learners learn English and earn their GEDs.
Sister Kelly enjoys her work at San Jac and has taught there since 2010. “I am always astounded that students think you can’t be religious and ‘believe’ in evolution. It is a pleasure for me to teach that my relationship with God helps develop my understanding of science and my understanding of science also helps increase my understanding of God and her wonderful creation.” Sister Kelly finds great joy in helping her students understand that one can believe in God and understand evolution with no conflict.
Sister Kelly is currently working on a Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and has really been enjoying this experience. She loves being a teacher and will keep teaching as long as she can. Sister Kelly also spends the month of July working at the Dominican Sisters Summer Camp every year. When Sister Kelly is not in the classroom she enjoys reading and crafting.
Bieter, Sr. Doloretta, O.P. (Marjorie Ellen Bieter) +
03/23/1930 – 09/15/2015
Sister Doloretta was born in Austin, Texas where she lived with her parents and three siblings. Sister Doloretta attended St. Mary’s Catholic school in Austin and then went on to attend the University of Texas where she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music and English.
Once she graduated from University of Texas, she entered Sacred Heart Convent in 1952. “I knew that God wanted me to come.” She was inspired by the many Dominican Sisters who had taught her and by her own aunt, Sister Mary Paul Byrne. “Making the decision to join the Dominican Sisters was an easy one.”
Sister Doloretta taught for over 30 years. She spent some years teaching at St. Agnes Academy. She was one of the teachers who taught at St. Pius X High School when it first opened. She was there for eleven years and holds a special place in her heart for the St. Pius X community.
Sister Doloretta taught at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Austin and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in California. “I really enjoyed teaching, especially eleventh grade English and music.”
In 1990 Sister Doloretta moved back to Houston and spent the next twenty years visiting the sick in St. Francis de Sales parish. “I brought communion to those who were sick and I was able to be with them when they were near death.” Sister Doloretta felt a real connection to those she served and feels a great sense of fulfillment with this ministry. “I got to be with them when they needed someone. I got to know the families too.” Even in retirement she remains very connected to the St. Francis de Sales community, attending community events when possible.
Sister Doloretta has been a Dominican Sister for over 60 years. “God wanted me to be a Dominican Sister. I have been happy to do it.”
Boddeker, Sr. Mary Frances (Fran), O.P. (Sr. M. Julia Boddeker, O.P.) +
05/20/1929 – 06/16/2018
Sister Fran Boddeker was born in Houston at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Her parents Alden and Julia raised five daughters in the city. Sister Fran attended St. Mary’s Catholic School through the eighth grade and went on to graduate from St. Agnes Academy. She joined the convent soon after graduation.
Sister Fran has taught at several schools over her years as a Dominican educator.
She has served at St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School, Assumption Catholic School, St. Christopher Catholic School, St. Augustine Catholic School, and St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas. Sister Fran went to Austin, Texas, where she was teacher and principal at St. Austin Catholic School and taught at Sacred Heart Catholic School. She taught at O’Connell Junior High School and Sacred Heart Catholic Schools in Galveston, Texas, was principal at St. Mary’s Catholic in Taylor, Texas.
She enjoyed teaching, especially those in middle school. “That is the best age to teach.” She has many fond memories of her teaching days. At St. Austin Catholic School she found herself serving as the eighth grade teacher and principal. “My office was right across the hall from my classroom. I had to go back and forth to answer the phone and one day I went across the hall to get the phone and when I returned to the classroom my desk was gone. The students had moved it. I just came back into class and gave an assignment. I didn’t even blink an eye, just went right on teaching. After a bit someone said, “This is no fun. Let’s go get her desk”. When they came in with the desk she thanked them and went back to the lesson. It was great because they say they couldn’t get the best of me, couldn’t rattle me. They turned out to be a great and memorable class.”
In addition to her 40 years in education Fran served as the Director of Newman Hall in Austin and on the Dominican Sisters’ Leadership Team. Sister Fran spent the last 16 years of her active ministry serving as the Guatemala Mission Coordinator.
Sister Fran has a great connection with her Dominican Sisters and holds dear the openness and togetherness of her fellow Sisters. “It’s been good, good years. Real good years.”
Sister Fran is currently retired and lives at St. Dominic Villa with others of her Dominican Sisters. She enjoys her exercise classes, reading and visits with her family.
Bordages, Sr. Emily, O.P. (Claire Bordages)
Sister Emily was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She attended St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School for grade school and high school and was educated by Dominican sisters who taught there. “I was inspired by their love of God and by how they served others.” Sister Emily entered Sacred Heart Convent upon her high school graduation.
Sister Emily’s first assignment was at Sacred Heart Catholic School. She also taught at St. Austin Catholic School and at St. Agnes Academy. In 1958 Sister Emily went to teach at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California. For 51 years Sister Emily taught at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, Texas.
Sister Emily has had wonderful years in her ministry touching the lives of many. “I just received a letter thanking me for helping the person cope with her grandmother’s death and for teaching her to say a decade of the rosary. She has since traveled to Italy and had the decade of rosary blessed by Pope Francis. She said her life has been changed by the kindness and love.”
Sister Emily retired from teaching in 2016. She resides at St. Dominic Villa, where she also helps out as receptionist. She enjoys reading, music, sports and keeping fit.
Bordages, Sr. Francis Marie, O.P. (Emelie Theresa Bordages)
Sister Francis Marie was the eleventh child of Denny and Marie Bordages. Her parents had had close ties to the Dominican sisters since they were children and Sister Francis Marie and her siblings grew up with the Dominican sisters as part of their family. Sister Francis Marie attended St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas where she was taught by Dominican sisters. “I admired the sisters. They were happy and they all did good work.” Sister Francis Marie had a large and loving family who were devoted to each other and their faith. Six of her siblings entered religious life and she felt she was drawn to do the same. “I was very shy and unsure if I would make a good sister. The sisters, my family and friends were all very supportive and encouraged me to enter. They helped me discover God and the importance of helping others, especially through education.”
Sister Francis Marie entered Sacred Heart convent in September 1949. Her first teaching assignment was at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Rosenberg, Texas in 1951. She served this community for two years. Over the next thirteen years Sister Francis Marie taught at St. Mary Catholic School, St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School, St. Augustine Catholic School, Queen of Peace Catholic School and All Saints Catholic School in Houston, Texas and St. Mary Catholic School in Whittier, California. She remembers all of these schools with great fondness. “There was a year when I was at All Saints in Houston. Every child came to school with such a good spirit. It was a beautiful year.”
Bordages, Sr. M. Raphael, O.P. (Mary Rose Bordages)
Sister Raphael Bordages was born in Beaumont, Texas. She lived with her parents Marie and Dennie Bordages and her twelve siblings. She attended St. Anthony High School from elementary through high school, graduating in 1939. Sister Raphael was very active in team sports when she was young, playing asketball and baseball. After graduation she spent a year attending Lamar University pursing a degree in Physical Education.
In 1940 Sister Raphael left Lamar University to enter the convent. “The Dominican Sisters had a great influence on our family. My parents had been involved with the Sisters since they were young. Our family was very close with Sister Raphael Burke and the community of St. Anthony’s was very tight knit. I admired them and followed their example by joining.”
Sister Raphael enjoyed 50 years of teaching. She has served at St. Mary of the Purification Catholic School and Sacred Heart Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Charles Catholic School in Nederland, Texas, Holy Family Catholic School in Wharton, Texas, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Orange, Texas, Sacred Heart Catholic School in Nacogdoches, Texas, St. Patrick Catholic School in Lufkin, Texas, and St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas. Sister Raphael loved teaching the young children. “My favorite thing to do was to sing funny songs to them and they would respond. It was a wonderful way to have them all see how good the Lord is.”
Over the 50 years Sister Raphael spent teaching she was able to follow the example of the Sisters who influenced her, always believing it is important to give to others what you have. “They provided a wonderful foundation in education and in faith. They made it come alive. We were happy and we loved our faith.”
What Sister Raphael loves most about being a Dominican is the spirit. “We spread the Good News. It is about becoming familiar with God and seeing the joy of life. God is beauty. He has given us wonderful gifts and He loves us so much.”
Sister Raphael lives at St. Dominic Villa. She enjoys being outside in nature, knitting and writing. One of her collections of poems has been printed, “Reflections of a Little Nun.”
Bordages, Sr. Marie, O.P. (Therese Catherine Bordages)
Sister Marie Bordages is from Beaumont, Texas. She comes from a large family who has always been very involved with the church. “My father met the sisters when they arrived in Beaumont when he was a boy.” She remembers the Dominican Sisters in Beaumont as always being close to her family. This closeness is what led Sister Marie to enter the convent in 1943.
In 1945 Sister Marie taught at her first school, Sacred Heart Catholic School in Houston. In 1948 she went to Nacogdoches, Texas and taught at St. Ann Catholic School. “In Nacogdoches we rode in a truck to the school which was between Lufkin and Nacogdoches. We would pick up students on the way.” Sister Marie remembers sitting in the back of the covered bed of the truck visiting with the students.
Sister Marie taught for 58 years. She has been at Christ the King Catholic School in Houston, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California; Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California; St. Christopher Catholic School and Assumption Catholic School in Houston; St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas; St. Patrick Catholic School in Lufkin, Texas; Assumption Catholic School and St. Anthony Catholic School in Beaumont and St. Thea Bowman Academy in Port Arthur, Texas.
Today Sister Marie is retired from teaching but keeping herself very busy. She drives many of the sisters who reside at St. Dominic Villa to appointments. In her spare time she enjoys watching baseball and football and making the best orange marmalade you could ever eat!
Borski, Sr. Veronica, O.P. (Sr. M. Veronica Borski, O.P.) +
06/30/1924 – 03/24/2015
Sister Veronica was born in Richards, Texas. She and her seven brothers and sisters grew up in Anderson, Texas on a farm. “We spent our time exploring the creek and wooded area around our home. It was a happy childhood.”
After high school she moved to California with her sister and brother-in-law and worked to support the war efforts. During this time she felt a special calling and a young Dominican priest introduced to her the Mother General. “Becoming a Sister is something I had wanted probably all of my life even though I didn’t know any Sisters. I knew they prayed and worked and somewhere while growing up the idea came to me, then I put it aside. Then one day it seemed like a calling, a feeling that I was being told something without hearing a voice.” After seeking the council of the Mother General and the young priest, she answered this special calling and she entered the Sacred Heart Convent in 1945.
Sister Veronica taught elementary children during her years in the classroom, particularly enjoying teaching math and science. “I especially enjoyed teaching the fifth grade. She also spent several of her years serving as principal in many of these schools. Sister Veronica held positions at St. Augustine Catholic School and Assumption Catholic Schools in Houston, Texas, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas, and St. Pius Catholic School in Beaumont. “I remember one year when I was teaching the 6th grade we did the Stations of the Cross outside. The children did all the work. It came out just perfect.”
In the early 1980’s Sister Veronica graduated from the University of Texas Nursing School. She worked in the hospital for a while then went into private duty nursing with HIV patients.
Currently Sister Veronica is retired and living at St. Dominic Villa. She enjoys sewing and spends time working as receptionist for the Villa. “There is always something to do. There is more time for private prayers.”
Being a Dominican Sister has been wonderful for Sister Veronica. It is something she has really enjoyed over these many years. “I remember telling my parents many years ago, that I wanted to join the order. It’s the only time I ever saw my father cry. He was happy.”
Brenda, Sr. Mary, O.P.
Sister Mary was born in LaPorte, Indiana to Stanley and Peggy Brenda. She is one of nine children, enjoying six brothers and two sisters. Sister Mary attended the nursing program at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. She became a registered nurse and continued her studies earning a Bachelor’s in Health Education from Penn State University. During her early college years she volunteered as a medical missionary working in the poorest of areas in Bogota, Colombia with the religious congregation Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. It was during these missions that idea of a religious vocation began to stir in her heart. “In 1989, I entered a religious congregation on the east coast. My experience of initial formation was rich in scripture and prayer. After some years however, I realized God was leading me to something more. As the spirit would have it, I discovered what that ‘something more’ was when I met members of the Dominican Order.” In 1996, Sister Mary joined the Houston Dominican sisters.
Sister Mary has touched many in her ministry work. She has served as the Director of HIV/AIDS Outreach Ministry for Catholic Charities in the Galveston/Houston Diocese as well as doing massage therapy and retreat ministry. “My ministry and mission as a Dominican has been an amazing journey – something far greater than I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.”
Sister Mary has served as the Administrator of St. Bakhita Dispensary in Nairobi, Kenya and the Development Support staff for Our Lady of Grace School, Kisumu, Kenya. “As a Dominican sister, my life of being rooted in scripture and prayer has only continued to grow more deeply. The people and the places where God has sent me only serve to remind me of how much gospel love is still needed in our world today.”
Today Sister Mary serves as the school nurse at St. Agnes Academy. She enjoys her work with the young people at St. Agnes and you will often find her attending retreats and after-school events supporting her students. “I love getting to know the students and celebrating their talents and successes.”
In addition to taking care of the health care needs of the students of St. Agnes Academy Sister Mary coordinates two very special missions for the students at St. Agnes Academy. In the spring she accompanies them to Eagle Pass, Texas, where they get to experience first-hand the challenges the poor at the border are faced with. The students help repair and paint homes as well as help with bible school lessons in a local catholic primary school.
The summer mission she coordinates is an immersion mission in Kisumu, Kenya in East Africa. “It is all about service and relationships.” The students rotate through a series of experiences, including being a student in the classroom for a day, following the same schedule of chores, daily Mass, and after school recreation. When they are not in the classroom the students are lending a hand in the school kitchen, vegetable garden, cow stalls, chicken house, or fixing up and painting old dorm rooms. “Being able to walk with the young people in Africa and with the youth at St. Agnes Academy here in Houston are particularly blest ministries for me. I have had my privileged years in foreign mission. There couldn’t be a more meaningful life than being one who gets to be to plant new seeds of faith, hope and love in the hearts and minds of today’s young. For this I am more grateful than words can ever say.”
“What I love most about being a Dominican is the challenge of our mission statement, ‘We assume the inherent risks of preaching and teaching the gospel’. These risks include being companions on the journey with others. I love being able to not only be in relationship with members of our community, but with the greater worldwide Dominican Family as well. I continue to look forward to many more years of serving God on this amazing journey as a Dominican sister.”
Campbell, Sr. Assumpta, O.P. (Gloria Campbell)
Sister Assumpta was born at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, Texas. She has wonderful memories of her parents and six siblings growing up in the Houston area, “We were a close family”. She was educated by Dominican sisters at All Saints Catholic School, Assumption Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy in Houston. “It was the kindness of my first grade teacher, “ Sister Assumpta says, that inspired her to enter the convent.
In 1953 Sister Assumpta entered Sacred Heart Convent. For twenty years she served in community ministry for the Dominican Sisters in various locations, including St. Agnes Academy and the Motherhouse.
Sister Assumpta also served as teaching assistant at St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School for a few years before moving to the School of Environmental Education, otherwise known as Camp Kappe.
She has wonderful memories of her thirteen years teaching outdoor education there. “The work at Camp Kappe was extremely important. It has been a privilege for me being able to foster the understanding of young children and to teach them about the importance of caring for the environment.”
After serving as teacher at the School of Environmental Education, Sister Assumpta went into ministry at the Circle Lake Family Retreat Center, where she coordinated the facility operations for seven years.
For the past eleven years Sister Assumpta has served at St. Mary’s parish in Taylor, Texas, ministering to the elderly and homebound of the parish and community. She spends her days visiting parishioners in their homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the area. “It is a real privilege to do this work. They just like to have someone visit with them and I just try to make them smile.” It is with great love and devotion that sister talks about her ministry work. “They give me hope and teach me what I believe to be true, which is to take each day as it comes and not worry about getting older.”
Sister Assumpta plans to continue her ministry in Taylor. When she has time for herself she enjoys art and spending time outdoors with nature and animals.
Carbajal, Sr. Mary Alice, O.P. (Sister Mary Gilbert, O.P.)
Sister Mary Alice Carbajal was born January 4, 1923 in Fabens, Texas. She is the youngest of six children born to Refugio Rey Carbajal and Gilbert Carbajal. She attended Fabens Elementary School and Fabens High School, graduating in 1942.
Upon graduation she attended business school and worked in a real estate office. She later traveled to California and worked in a hospital as a clerk.
She remembers coming to Houston to join the convent on February 14th. Once she made her First Profession she started teaching at St. Mary of the Purification in Houston where she taught third grade.
In 1966 she volunteered to go to Guatemala as one of the mission founders. There she taught religion in the public schools until 1969, with Dominican Sisters Theresa Macey and Sister Siena Schmitt. “My favorite work was the mission work in Guatemala. I was able to speak up seeking justice for the people there. I met many people and helped them with what they needed,” said Sister Mary Alice.
She later taught St. Mary Catholic High School in Orange, Texas, before returning to California. She taught Spanish at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside and the elementary level in Whittier. “I loved teaching the third grade. I made class fun. On Friday afternoons we had enrichment and cooked with an electric pan. The children learned how to measure, break eggs how to mix ingredients and how to share with each others. They had so much fun”, remembered Sister Mary Alice.
Sister Mary Alice also served as the CCE Director at Francis de Sales Parish in Riverside, California. “I am grateful for my fluency in Spanish. It has really allowed me to help people with limited English.”
Currently Sister Mary Alice is retired and can be found helping as a receptionist at St. Dominic Villa. “I love here. This Dominican community is very special.”
Carter, Sr. Antoinette “Kitty”, O.P. (Sister John Katherine Carter, O.P.)
Sister Kitty was born in Houston, Texas. She lived in Houston with her parents and three siblings, as well as many extended family members. Sister Kitty attended St. Christopher Catholic School, Queen of Peace Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy. “I loved being at St. Agnes.” She enjoyed all of the extra-curricular activities, particularly volleyball, basketball and stage work.
After graduating from St. Agnes Academy Sister Kitty entered Sacred Heart convent in 1957. She says the Dominican sisters who taught her inspired her to enter.
Sister Kitty (Sister John Katherine) attended Dominican College earning Bachelor degree in English and in History and later earning a Master of Education from Our Lady of the Lake University. Her first teaching assignment was at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches, Texas. After three years in Port Neches she went to Sacred Heart Catholic School in Austin, Texas. During her 18 years at Sacred Heart Sister Kitty served as teacher, principal, and program director of the individualized instruction program. The program was an incredible example of what education can be when the teacher and curriculum meet the children where they are. “The students were respected for who they were and what they could do.” In 1981 Sister Kitty transferred to St. Mary’s Catholic School and served as principal until 1984.
In 1984 Sister Kitty went to Texas Southern University serving in Campus Ministry where the community includes students, faculty and staff. In 1987 Sister Kitty went to the University of Houston campus serving as campus minister and Diocesan Director of Campus Ministry.
In 1993 Sister Kitty worked at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School serving as school counselor. The following year she became the Director of Campus Ministry serving Rice University and The Texas Medical Center Educational Institutions. Sister Kitty enjoys her work with the medical students, faculty and staff. “I love the whole Rice culture and working with students. Sometimes there are issues they are working through and sometimes it’s supporting them as they venture forward.” Sister Kitty continues working in campus ministry as well as serving on the Dominican Sisters of Houston Leadership Council.
For Sister Kitty being a Dominican sister means being with a group of exemplary women who are strong and diligently faithful working together as a team, using their gifts for the purpose of serving others and seeking justice.
Casey, Sr. Pat, O.P.
Sister Pat was born in Kansas City, Missouri to Kay and Tom Casey. When Sister Pat was in the third grade the family moved from Missouri to Houston, where she and her four siblings attended St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. She went on to attend St. Agnes Academy and graduated in 1961.
“My family was always very active in the church and I admired the sisters who taught me at St. Agnes. I felt as if God was calling me, but I was a bit resistant. I worked for two years, but God was persistent.” Sister Pat entered the convent in 1963.
As a teacher, Sister Pat taught elementary and middle school students in several Diocesan schools. She taught at St. Christopher Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Charles Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas, St. Mary Catholic School and O’Connell Junior High in Galveston, Texas, and at St. Austin Catholic School in Austin, Texas.
Sister Pat obtained a BA from Sacred Heart Dominican College and a Masters in Educational Pastoral Ministry from Emmanuel College in Boston.
After ten years in the classroom Sister Pat served as Assistant Director of Newman Hall, the Catholic Dormitory for University of Texas women in Austin. This introduction to college students led her to serve as Campus Minister at the University of Houston and Director of Campus Ministry at Lamar University in Beaumont.
“One of the most interesting things I did was serving on the Assumption Seminary Formation Faculty in San Antonio. It was so different from any other assignment I had ever had.” Sister Pat did this work for five years.
For the past 18 years Sister Pat has been serving the Dominican Community in the Treasurer’s Office for eight years and on the Leadership team for ten years. She is currently serving on the Council as well as Director of Vocation Formation ministry.
Pat enjoys reading, studying & dabbling in graphic arts. Most grace-filled moments are visits and meals with family or friends.
“Being a Dominican is about our community. I enjoy the people we meet and being connected with a worldwide order of Sisters in over 100 countries. With technology we can all feel connected.”
Cernosek, Sr. Barbara Ann, O.P.
Sister Barbara Ann was born in Galveston, Texas. “I have happy memories of growing up on the island.” She attended St. Mary’s Cathedral Catholic School and Dominican High School in Galveston. Her parents originated from a Czech farming community and had a limited educational background. “They sacrificed dearly to ensure that their four children would be educated in Catholic Schools. My parents had a strong work ethic which they passed on to us.”
Sister Barbara Ann entered Sacred Heart Convent in September 1960. “The Dominican Sisters who taught me seemed to enjoy one another. Their smiles, sharing their faith life, their high expectations of their students impressed me. I wanted to be a part of these happy women…I wanted to be just like them.”
Over the next 50 years Sister Barbara Ann would teach in many schools. She has taught at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School and Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, Texas; Christ the King Catholic School, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and St. Jerome Catholic School in Houston; St. Gregory Catholic School in Whittier, California; Central Catholic High School in Port Arthur; Dominican Academy in Austin; and O’Connell Catholic High School and Galveston Catholic (now known as Holy Family Catholic School) in Galveston.
She has spent many years helping others learn and continuing to learn herself. Sister Barbara Ann holds a Bachelors degree from Sacred Heart Dominican College. She also studied at Mt. Saint Mary’s in California, Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas and Notre Dame in Indiana.
Sister Barbara Ann’s most memorable experience over these years would have to be her Golden Jubilee in 2010. “It was also the year for our 50th Class Reunion. The student body at Holy Family Catholic School presented me with a thumb printed crucifix. Each thumbprint represented a Hail Mary said for my intentions. This is now displayed on the entrance to my classroom. A Gala celebrating my Jubilee with family, classmates, community and faculty topped off a wonderful year!”
Sister Barbara Ann is presently teaching fourth grade at Holy Family Catholic School in Galveston. “I’d like to continue teaching as long as I am effective. I enjoy my ministry!” When she is not in the classroom she is keeping up with former classmates and students, reading, gardening and shopping.
Collins, Sr. Barbara Ann, O.P.
Sister Barbara Ann was born in Port Neches, Texas. She lived with her parents and brother. “I had a happy childhood and my favorite memory is my entrance to St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches.” She went on to graduate from St. Anthony High School.
In September 1956, Sister Barbara Ann entered the convent. “I was taught by Dominican Sisters and they inspired me by their friendliness and holiness.”
Sister Barbara Ann has studied at several wonderful institutions. In 1965 she received her BA from Sacred Heart Dominican College. She went on to study at Notre Dame in Indiana, Lady of the Lake and Incarnate Word in San Antonio and Loyola University in California.
Sister Barbara Ann would teach over 50 years, in ten different schools including, Christ the King Catholic School, St. Jerome Catholic School, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, and St. Augustine Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She taught at St. Anne Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas, Sacred Heart Catholic School and Odyssey Academy in Galveston, Texas; at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California; and at St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Catherine Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas.
“My most memorable ministry was at St. Catherine School. I was the junior high teacher there for fifteen years. I am from that area so I was close to my family and over the years I taught three or four children from one family. I even taught the children of my former students.”
In 2001 Sister Barbara Ann became the Director of the Christus Literacy Center in Galveston. She currently still serves in this position. “My future is in Galveston. I enjoy fishing, gardening and reading.”
Cresap, Sr. Eleanor, O.P.
Sister Eleanor was born in Houston where she lived with her parents and three younger sisters and extended family. As a child she attended Christ the King Catholic School and went on to attend St. Agnes Academy for high school. Sister Eleanor has great memories of her house on Merrill Street and of her family and the kid friendly neighborhood she grew up in.
“When I was in the eighth grade I had a realization that I was interested in being a Dominican Sister because I liked being with them.” They had taught her all through her childhood at both schools. “After graduation at my parents’ request, I did agree to wait a year to enter, to see if I was still interested. After the year was finished, I moved from my childhood home on Merrill to the convent on Almeda Road.” Sister Eleanor entered the convent in 1955.
For the first five years Sister Eleanor taught elementary grades at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston, then at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches. After that she went to Whittier, California and taught at St. Gregory Catholic School for five years. She returned to Texas and was assigned to Christ the King Catholic School where she had attended school as a child. She served there as principal for eight years. She was grateful to be close to her family again.
Sister Eleanor spent 35 years of her life in schools, both private and public, as both teacher and administrator. She left the schools and started working in the business office of one of the Dominican high schools as well as tutoring math at community college. She took theology classes at St. Mary’s Seminary.
One position Sister Eleanor really enjoyed was serving as the office manager with the Jesuit Volunteers. “During my twelve years with the JVC my position expanded at various times to include different program positions. This was an enriching experience for me. I worked with and met many wonderful young people. I also had the opportunity to learn and practice new skills such as bookkeeping, organizing events, mailings, and evaluating applicants for the program.”
Sister Eleanor now serves as the Administrator of St. Dominic Villa. “It is a good experience. I enjoy reconnecting with some of my former teachers and interacting with some of the Sisters I had not had an opportunity to know well.”
“I do not have plans for the future. When it is time to make a change, I will consider the options. Hopefully my plans will include time to enjoy nature and spend time reading.”
Cruzat, Sr. Heloise, O.P.
Sister Heloise was born in Houston, Texas. She lived in the Heights with her parents, Joseph Cruzat and Inez Junca Cruzat and her sister Inez Juanita. “It brings me great joy that my childhood home still exists and is being lovingly tended by its current owners whom I have had the pleasure of meeting.” Her father was an accountant for the Southern Pacific Railroad and her mother a very capable homemaker. Sister Heloise attended All Saints Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy.
Sister Heloise entered the convent in September 1951. “I first felt my call as a young child visiting the convent of All Saints Catholic School. The call never left me. I completed two years at the University of St. Thomas before entering.”
Sister Heloise’s degree area is in foreign language, French and Spanish. She holds a BA from Dominican College and an MA from St. Louis University.
In 1955 she taught French, Spanish and Latin at St. Agnes Academy and in 1966 after eleven years serving the school she became Principal there. In 1981 she began working with alumni and development at St. Pius X High School for three years before serving as their Principal from 1984-1991. Sister Heloise has many stories from her years in education. “There are many memorable experiences, but my former students seem to appreciate my code of silence.”
Following her time at St. Pius X High School, she went on to serve twelve years in congregational administration. During that period, Sr. Heloise had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and interacting with Dominican women and men regionally, nationally, and internationally. “I grow ever more grateful for my call to the Order of Preachers and to Dominican life and mission!”
Sister Heloise currently resides at St. Joseph Convent in Houston. She serves as Vicar for Religious for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and is chair of the Labyrinth Committee. She enjoys baking and photography. Her interest in gardening makes her a good Dominican liaison for the volunteers who tend the Dominican Sisters’ Community Garden.
Delgado, Sr. Lydia, O.P.
Sister Lydia was born in San Benito, Texas to Lorenzo and Maria Delgado. She grew up with her brother and sister. Sister Lydia has fond memories of her family. “My parents were migrant workers. They placed an emphasis on education and taught me strong work ethics and pride in a job well done. They taught me to help others wherever I saw a need.”
Sister Lydia entered religious life in 1980. “I had a desire to dedicate my life to help others”. She attended St. Thomas University, graduating in 1984 with her Bachelors degree in Religious Education. After completing her studies, she was assigned to St. Anthony’s Cathedral in Beaumont where she servedfor nine years as Director of Religious Education.
In 1995 Sister Lydia returned to Houston and was hired by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, where she served as a client advocate, providing case management services to families living at St. Vincent de Paul Village. Sister Lydia was later asked to serve as Director of the Shelter. In this capacity she was responsible for supervising the staff of volunteers employed by the shelter, interviewed families asking to enter the shelter, hiring staff and coordinating repairs and upkeep of the property. “It was rewarding to assist families rebuild their lives. Families achieved self-sufficiency and many of their children went on to graduate from high school and college and are now active in a variety of professions.”
In 2002 Sister Lydia enrolled part time in the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Houston and completed her studies in 2006. During the time she was going to graduate school, she worked in vocation ministry for the congregation, educating young women about religious life and encouraging them to consider it as a possibility.
Upon graduation from the University of Houston Sister Lydia she began working as a case manager in the Senior Services Program at Catholic Charities. As case manager she works with seniors, visiting them in their homes to complete assessments of their needs and providing them with resources allowing them to continue to live in their own homes safely for as long as possible. Sister Lydia has served in this role for the past eight years and plans to continue serving the elderly in Harris County in the future.
In her off time she enjoys working with crafts, doing counted cross-stitch, reading and going to the movies.
Dover, Sr. Adrian, O.P. (Barbara Lea Dover)
Sister Adrian Dover was born in Galveston, Texas where she lived with her parents Wesley and Edeline Dover and her three siblings. Her father worked for Monsanto in Texas City as a chemical engineer and her mother was a seamstress when the children were small, then worked as a registered nurse when they were all in school. Sister Adrian attended St. Patrick’s Catholic School and St. Mary’s Catholic School during her elementary years. She graduated from Dominican High School in 1956.
After graduation Sister Adrian planned on attending nursing school on scholarship. During her senior year however, Sister Adrian Flaherty died. Sister Adrian Flaherty taught her at St. Mary’s and had made an impression on her. It was then that Sister Adrian decided she would like to join the Dominican Sisters. She entered the convent in 1956.
Over the past 58 years Sister Adrian has worked in many ministries. She spent 22 years serving in schools as teacher and as principal. “I loved being a principal. I always took the cafeteria duty so I could know all of the children’s names.” These children she got to know were at schools including Assumption Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Patrick Catholic School in Lufkin, Texas, Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California, and St. Anne Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas.
In 1980 she left the classroom and served as the Administrator of Newman Hall in Austin and later as Vocation Formation Director for the Dominican community in Houston. Sister Adrian spent time serving as Campus Minister at Lamar in Beaumont, Retreat Director at Holy Family Retreat Center and Vocation Director for the Diocese of Beaumont. In 1992, she returned to Houston to serve the Community as Vocation-Formation Director.
In 1998 Sister Adrian was elected to the Dominican Sisters’ Council where she served for twelve years. In 2008-2010 she served as Prioress. “I have enjoyed all of my ministries. I cry when I go and I cry when I leave. I have loved every place I have been and have been able to sink my roots in everywhere I have gone.”
In 2016 Sister Adrian will celebrate her 60th year as a Dominican Sister. “Being a Dominican Sister means ministering to people. It means good friends, lots of children and lots of support. It’s gone really fast. It’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t trade a bit of it.”
Sister Adrian keeps herself busy as she waits for her 60th celebration. She continues to serve the Dominican community by coordinating hospitality at the Spirituality Center and preparing the liturgies for the community. She helps take care of the Villa Gift Shop, assists with the advancement office and helps to organize retreats at Holy Name Retreat House. Sister Adrian is also involved in the Dominican Family formation and serves on the Board of Directors of two Dominican Schools, St. Agnes Academy and St. Catherine’s Montessori.
“I have always felt appreciated in whatever I have done. We have such a gift of community and in this community people see gifts in you, you cannot even see in yourself. It is beautiful.”
Dworsky, Sr. Annette, O.P. (Sister Marie Anne Dworsky, O.P.)
Sister Annette was born to Joseph and Hattie Jablonski Dworsky in Rosenberg, Texas. Her father worked as a bookkeeper and her mother was a nurse prior to her children being born. Sister Annette was the middle of three children. All attended Holy Rosary Catholic School and were taught by Dominican Sisters. After Sister Annette graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in 1957, she went on to attend the University of St. Thomas in Houston. She graduated in 1961 with a BA in education and began teaching at a school in Spring Branch, Texas.
In September 1962, after one year of teaching in Spring Branch she joined the Houston Dominicans. “I had been thinking about being a Dominican Sister since the sixth grade when Sister Clare planted that seed. All through high school and college, however, I would say, ‘Okay, but not now.’”
Sister Annette has taught in thirteen different schools. She has served Sacred Heart Catholic School in Houston; Holy Family Catholic School in Wharton; and St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont. After her final profession in the summer of 1969 she spent the next several years teaching around Texas and in California. The schools include Little Flower Catholic School in Port Acres, St. Christopher Catholic School, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, Resurrection Catholic School, Seton Junior High and St. Pius X High School all in Houston, Texas. She taught at St. Joseph Catholic School in Port Arthur, St. Austin Catholic School in Austin, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California. “I really enjoyed my time at St. Austin and St. Pius X. The faculty community was a real community, so unified. You knew you were working together.”
In the summer of 1986 Sister Annette went back to the University of St. Thomas and earned a Masters in Religious Education, graduating in 1991. On sabbatical in 1996-1997 she enrolled in the Spiritual Direction Institute at the Cenacle and was certified in 2000.
After a sabbatical, Sister Annette went back to the classroom in 1997 where she taught at her childhood grade school, Holy Rosary Catholic School in Rosenberg. She taught there for ten years. “I taught everything from second grade to twelfth grade. My favorite grade level was junior high; my greatest challenge was second grade!” She has great respect for primary teachers.
In 2007 the council asked her to be the Pastoral Coordinator at St. Dominic Villa. She has enjoyed her ministry there scheduling Mass and being with the retired sisters for prayer and community meetings. She visits sisters at St. Dominic Nursing Home as well.
One of the blessing for which she is most grateful in being a Dominican is in the area of Catholic Social Justice teaching. The community is attentive to the Church’s call to be a voice for the poor and oppressed. A turning point in her life was when the community declared Sanctuary for the refugees from El Salvador. “That public proclamation made a statement that we would stand for what we believed regardless of the consequences. It was at that moment that I realized that this is what it meant to be a Christian. I felt so proud to be a Dominican.”
Sister Annette currently serves as Pastoral Coordinator at St. Dominic Villa. She visits the St. Catherine’s Montessori weekly to meditate with the children. “It is a delight! I look forward to being with the students.”
Enderle, Sr. M. Paula, O.P. (Frieda Claire Enderle) +
01/01/1928 – 02/21/2020
Sr. Paula Enderle, O.P. (Freida Clare) entered eternal life on Friday, February 21, 2020. Sr. Paula was born in Beaumont, TX, January 1, 1928, to the late Martin and Pauline Matzke Enderle. Sister was the last surviving of sixteen children and was predeceased by her siblings Richard, Clarence, Erna Norton, Edward, Fr. Nester (and his twin), Wilbert, Sr. Fidelis, O.P. (Viola), Pauline Nash, Dora Hillin, Fr. Marvin (M.F.), James, Barbara Harrison and Mary Jane Suppes. She is survived by numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
Following graduation from St. Anthony High School in Beaumont in 1946, Sr. Paula entered the Dominican Sisters of Houston. She earned a B.A. in English at Dominican College, Houston; an M.E.D. in Guidance and Counseling at the University of Houston; Certification in Corporate Ministry at St. Louis University in St. Louis MO; and an M.A. in Spirituality and Culture at Holy Names College, Oakland, CA.
Sr. Paula served in education ministry at Christ the King School in Houston; St. Mary Cathedral School in Galveston; St. Catherine School in Port Neches; St. Peter the Apostle School in Houston; O’Connell School in Galveston; and St. Pius X High School in Houston. She served also as Director of Urban Crime Prevention with Houston Metropolitan Ministries, and as Pastoral Minister at Christ the King Church and All Saints Parish in Houston.
Her congregational service included her ministry as Prioress, Director of Formation and Vocations, Southern Novitiate Coordinator, National Novitiate Founding Group, National Dominican Novitiate Board, and Administrator of St. Dominic Villa.
Sr. Paula will be remembered for her kindness, her humor, her justice and peace ministry addressing social issues and non-violence, and her love of cooking and gardening.
Sister’s body will be welcomed at 4 p.m. and the vigil service will be at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at St. Dominic Villa Chapel, 6504 Almeda Rd. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Rev. Gilbert Enderle C.Ss.R. on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at Dominican Sisters Spirituality Center, 6501 Almeda Rd. Burial is at Forest Park, Lawndale at 1 p.m. In lieu of the usual remembrances, donations may be made to Dominican Sisters of Houston, 6501 Almeda Road, Houston, TX, 77021.
Flusche, Sr. Anna Marie, O.P. (Sr. Michele Marie, O.P.)
Sister Anna Marie grew up in Dallas, Texas with her parents and two siblings. She graduated from Ursuline Academy in Dallas and attended the University of Dallas for one year. In September, 1963 Sister Anna Marie entered Sacred Heart Convent in Houston. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a sister. And my parents encouraged me in that decision.”
For her first assignment, Sister Anna Marie went to St. Christopher Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She taught there for three years before becoming chair of the music department of St. Agnes Academy. She has also worked at St. Anne Catholic School in Houston.
Sister Anna Marie graduated from Dominican College in Houston with a bachelor’s degree in liturgical music in 1969. She received a master’s degree from North Texas State University (now The University of North Texas), and she was the first person to be awarded a doctorate in organ performance from Rice University in 1995. In addition, she spent a year of study and research in Toulouse, France.
For the past 43 years Sister Anna Marie has served as organist at St. Michael Catholic Church, St. Christopher Catholic Church and Hosanna Lutheran Church.
When Sister Anna Marie went to St. Agnes Academy in 1970, she found a pipe organ in need of restoration. The project turned into a lifelong passion. “That’s how I got bitten by the organ-building bug.” Sister Anna Marie has written extensively on the subject of priests and religious who were organ builders. “I am interested in the contributions made by religious men and women to the arts, especially in the field of organ-building.” Her works include an article, “Willem Hermans: Organ-Builder of the Society of Jesus,” (The Organ Yearbook) and a presentation on the Cavaillé-Coll family of organ-builders, the first of whom was a Dominican lay brother. Her book, The Life and Legend of Gerbert of Aurillac: The Organbuilder Who Became Pope Sylvester II, was published in 2005. Her work brings together both aspects of their lives: the religious vocation and the call to be an artist. “In doing this research, my goal is to “unseparate” things that have been separated.”
Sister Anna Marie lives in Houston, Texas, where she continues to serve as the organist for Hosanna Lutheran Church. She enjoys researching, writing and editing and continues that work. Over the past few years she has written a screenplay, The Preacher and the Dreamer, a story that recounts the foundation of the Dominican Order.
Galiano, Sr. Benignus, O.P. (Mary Rose Galiano)
Sister Benignus Galiano was born in Beaumont, Texas where she lived with her parents Rose Capo Galiano and Charles Galiano and her two siblings. She attended St. Anthony’s Catholic School until she graduated from St. Anthony High School in 1939. She entered the convent in June 1940. “I never really thought seriously about doing anything else,” recalled Sister Benignus.
Her first teaching assignment was at St. Mary’s in Port Arthur where she taught first and sedond grade. She later came back to St. Mary Catholic School and served as principal. Sister Benignus has taught at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston, Assumption Catholic School in Houston and served as principal at St. Joseph Catholic School in Port Arthur. Sister Benignus taught one year in San Bernardino, California and then went to Riverside, California, and taught three years at St. Francis de Sales Catholic High School.
In the summer of 1967 she attended Wisconsin State University and studied theater. She later went to teach at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont and during this time she attended Texas Woman’s University receiving a Masters of Arts degree. “I was always interested in plays and theater.”
From 1970-1974 she taught English, speech and drama. The first musical production was Oliver. “We did wonderful things. The students were talented. It wasn’t easy producing in a gym/auditorium.”
In 1974 Sister Benignus went back to St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur, this time as the Director of Children’s Religious Education. Over the next fifteen years she served as Director of Religious Education for several parishes, including St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas, St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic School in Abilene, Texas, Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Groves, Texas and St. James Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas.
During the 1990s she spent time working at Our Lady of Guadalupe Social Services here in Houston, assisting individuals to find employment.
Sister Benignus reflects on her time as a teacher and Dominican Sister. “ I think that prayer, study, community and action of Dominican life continues to provide for me the challenge to become the human being God intended me to be.” She enjoyed teaching, particularly encouraging creativity in children, which is why she enjoyed working with students in drama and theater. “The experience of performing on stage is something they never forget.”
Sister Benignus now lives at St. Dominic Villa with companion sisters. She enjoys oil painting, reading and doing crossword puzzles. She helps out as a receptionist and ministering to other sisters at the Villa.
Gaspard, Sr. Katie, O.P.
Sister Katie was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She attended DeQueen Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Junior High and Thomas Jefferson High School all in Port Arthur She has six siblings and has many fond memories of her time with her family. “It was very lively growing up in my family. My family has always supported each other and we knew we could depend on each other for anything.” Christmas Eve was always very special, including gatherings of over 60 family members.
“I was introduced to the Dominican Sisters at St. Joseph Catholic School in Port Arthur. I volunteered to coach the softball team at the school. I was going to be a teacher and thought this would give me a good opportunity to see if I really wanted to work with children. I met a group of fun-loving, happy, hard-working women.
In August 1977 she entered the convent. “I knew I was searching to do something more in my life. When I entered I convinced myself that I would give it one year. Well, almost 37 years later I am still here.”
Sister Katie began her teaching in 1977 at Holy Name Catholic School. She went on to teach for 3 years at Hartsfield Elementary in Houston where she worked with Special Education Students. From 1982-1994 she was teacher, campus minister, Dean of Students and Assistant Principal at St. Pius X High School. “I loved that school. I have wonderful memories of teaching with several other sisters. It was hard and challenging work.”
In 1995 Sister Katie worked as an administrator at the Southern Dominican Volunteer Program, a counselor at the Resurrection Catholic School and as case manager at El Centro de Corazon. “I would visit the teen mothers in different government housing in the Second Ward. The poverty that I saw in the shadows of downtown Houston was unforgettable.”
In 1999 she moved closer to her childhood home to be near her father where she served as Assistant Principal and religion teacher at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica School for two years. Next Sister Katie found herself at Port Neches Groves High School. She still teaches there today. “This experience has been a challenge, as well as rewarding. For the past 12 years I have helped my students learn how to function in society, gain confidence, express feelings they may have and learn how to deal with anger. Helping my students move from a self-contained room to being able to function independently in other classrooms is rewarding.”
For now Sister Katie’s ministry is at Port Neches Groves High School. When the time comes for her to leave she would like to help create a Special Education program in the Beaumont Diocese. “I have always believed that every student has the right to a Catholic education if they choose to attend, regardless of finance or mental ability.”
Giardina, Sr. Mary Ann, O.P.
Sister Mary Ann was born in Beaumont, Texas, where she lived with her parents Nick and Mary Giardina and her sister Rose and brother Sam. Sister Mary Ann was taught by Dominican Sisters at St. Anthony High School. After graduating high school she attended Lamar College in Beaumont and worked several years at Coburn Supply Company.
In 1955 Sister Mary Ann entered Sacred Heart Convent and she began her service to the community. “The Dominican Sisters who taught me in high school made quite an impression on me, inspiring me to enter.”
She taught business and administration classes at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas; Monsignor Kelly High School in Beaumont, Texas, and St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas. Sister Mary Ann also taught business and administration at the collegiate level at Dominican College in Houston.
Sister Mary Ann also spent time serving the Dominican Sisters Community directly as community secretary, council member and treasurer.
In 1997 Sister Mary Ann and Sister Marge Novak co-founded Raphael Community Free Clinic in Kerrville, Texas. This organization serves those who cannot afford health insurance especially the working poor.
Sister Mary Ann continues to work at the community center in Kerrville, Texas.
“I love this ministry. I have really enjoyed every ministry I have been involved with. I am very blessed for that.”
Gibler, Sr. Linda, O.P.
Sister Linda Gibler was born in New London, Connecticut. She is one of five children and they were raised in Groton, Connecticut. The coastal town she lived in during these years gave her a fondness for tall trees, wide rivers and rocky beaches. Her father is a native Houstonian and eventually found his way back to the Lone Star state once the children were grown. Eventually the children followed and now everyone is scattered around Texas.
Sister Linda received a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Anthropology with Honors in Life Science Ethics from the William Paterson State College of New Jersey before moving to Texas.
In 1986 Sister Linda entered Sacred Heart Convent joining the Dominican Sisters of Houston. This same year she began working as a hospital chaplain at Ben Taub Hospital. Beginning in 1989, she served as the Director of Social Ministry for the Prince of Peace Catholic Community for eight years. One of her favorite memories was from her time spent in this community. “Each year parishioners were asked to bring colored Easter eggs with them to Easter Mass. Volunteers collected the eggs at the doors of the church and brought then to homeless shelters in downtown Houston as part of Sunday breakfast. We would collect hundreds of dozens of colored eggs! There was this little girl in an Easter dress complete with a bonnet offering a basket of Easter eggs to an elderly homeless man. Recalling her joyfulness and the tenderness in his acceptance of the gift still softens my heart.”
During this time she also served on the Medical Ethics Board at Cypress Fairbanks Community Hospital and later was Lead Case Manager at the Breast and Cervical Cancer Care Program for the Texas Department of Health. She also studied at Aquinas Institute of Theology earning a MA in Pastoral Studies and her preaching certificate.
Sister Linda began studies in cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in 1999. She completed her MA in 2001 and graduated with her PhD in Philosophy and Religion, Concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness in 2007. Her book, From the Beginning to Baptism: Scientific and Sacred Stories of Water, Oil and Fire, was published by Litergical Press in 2010.
Currently Sister Linda is involved in several things. She is the Assistant Professor of Science and Religion and Associate Academic Dean at the Oblate School of Theology. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Loyola Institute for Ministry. Sister Linda is a leader in the community giving workshops, lectures and offering days of prayer for many different groups on topics related to ecology and religion, evolution, care of creation and how attending to creation is an essential part of Catholic tradition.
Godinich, Sr. Josephine Marie, O.P. (Marie Godinich)
Sister Josephine Marie was born in Galveston, Texas. She spent her childhood on the island with her parents John and Josephine Godinich and her six siblings. Sister Josephine Marie has wonderful stories from when she was a child. Their family owned the Wharf Café near the waterfront. Her mother cooked all the time and Sister Josephine would often help her prepare the food. She recalls her mother being well known to the Sisters for her baked stuffed crab and the young Sister Josephine Marie was known to the sisters as the young girl who would bring them the delicious treats. She attended St. Mary’s Cathedral School and Dominican High School in Galveston. “The sisters taught us. We would work in the garden with them. I was around them all the time.” This closeness to the Dominican Sisters made it easy for her to enter Sacred Heart Convent in 1960.
Early in Sister Josephine Marie’s teaching career she taught at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Catherine Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas and at St. John Catholic School in Rubidoux, California. In 1970 she came back to Houston to teach at Queen of Peace Catholic School again and in 1975 she was asked to serve as principal. During her eight years as principal, Sister Josephine Marie was able to get air conditioning in the school and start a cafeteria program through her inventive fundraising ideas.
Sister Josephine Marie went to St. Raphael Parish where she developed her gift to fundraise. While at St. Raphael she helped raise the funds to enlarge the cafeteria, add office and CCE classroom space, and eventually add a wing to the church. She accomplished this by organizing bazaars and raffles and using her gift of negotiation.
Her knack at fundraising led her to a position in the Education Development Office for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston where she did development and fundraising for inner city schools. Sister Josephine Marie has also helped with fundraising at Blessed Sacrament, Immaculate Heart of Mary and All Saints Catholic School. “I was very excited to do the fundraising at the places where I worked. One of the priests where I was said I was ‘gifted in deals’. I believe where there is a will there is a way and have been successful helping the churches and schools I have worked with get what they needed.”
One of Sister Josephine Marie’s fundraising endeavors came about through the inspiration and experiences as a young girl cooking with her mother. She began catering, making lunches for different organizations, and she is noted for the homemade dressing she puts on her po boys. The proceeds benefited the Office of Hispanic Ministries.
Sister Josephine has served as bookkeeper for St. Dominic Villa and for the Dominican Sisters of Houston Administrative Offices. Currently she organizes the distribution of the “Five Minutes of Prayer in the Home” publication that goes around to over 50 churches and organizations in the area. Sister Josephine Marie also assists with providing transportation to the retired sisters who live at the Villa. She enjoys word puzzles and going fishing when the opportunity arises.
Sister Josephine Marie has enjoyed her ministries and she feels blessed to have been able to help others. “Most of my time in ministry has been with the poor. If I can lighten the load for someone else I want to do it and sometimes the smallest gestures mean so much, just a smile may be what they need. Being a Dominican Sister is about service to others.”
Greig, Sr. Julie, O.P.
Sister Julie was born to John and Claudia Greig in Port Arthur, Texas. Her father worked as a CPA for Gulf Oil and her mother was a teacher before the children were born, then stayed home with them. Sister Julie attended St. Mary’s Catholic School for grade school and Bishop Byrne High School. She spent her childhood taught by Dominican Sisters who influenced her. In 1958, Sister Julie entered the convent.
Sister Julie taught at St. Mary Catholic School in Houston; Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston; St. John Catholic School in Rubidoux, California; and St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School in Houston. She enjoyed teaching the first grade the most. “The children were so free and innocent, so eager to learn. They came in September and didn’t know how to read or write and left at the end of the year having learned so much.”
In 1970 Sister Julie went back to Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston and served as Principal for six years. She also served as Principal at Central Catholic School in Port Arthur for eight years. “Being principal was nice. I enjoyed interacting with the parents and teachers.”
Sister Julie holds degrees from Dominican College, the University of San Francisco and the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis. She also received her certification in Clinical Pastoral Education.
In the 1980’s Sister Julie became the Vocation Formation Director for the Dominican Sisters. She served in this position for six years. During this time she began working part-time at Ben Taub as a chaplain. “I enjoyed hospital work. Each day was a new and different experience.”
She enjoyed the work so much that in 2000, Sister Julie became a full time chaplain at Ben Taub. She spent her time meeting people, visiting and providing comfort to those who were sick or needed medical care. The position as chaplain was very rewarding to her. “The patients and families just appreciated being listened to. Many times I didn’t know who had been ministered to the most…me or them.”
In 2010 she was called to serve on the Council as Liaison to St. Dominic Villa. She is still currently doing this work. She serves on the Board of Directors of St. Catherine’s Montessori and the Shalom Center as well as having been active in the formation of the Dominican Family.
Being a Dominican defines Sister Julie. “I feel very supported by the community. To be a Houston Dominican is one of the things I am most proud of in my life. This is a family and support system and I will always have these Dominicans with me no matter what.”
Hackett, Sr. Sheila, O.P. (Sr. Brigid Marie Hackett, O.P.)
Sister Sheila Hackett was born in South Tipperary, Ireland. Sister Sheila lived on a farm with her parents and siblings. She attended Goatenbridge Elementary School and Mercy Convent High School in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.
Sister Sheila entered the Sacred Heart convent in 1955. “Life was always good to me and as I grew older I thought there must be something more. This pondering led me to the Dominicans in Houston, Texas.” Sister Sheila attended Dominican College graduating with a Bachelor in English and History. She continued her studies, graduating with a Master of Arts in United States Literature from Loyola University in Los Angeles, California and a Master of Science in Information Sciences from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.
St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas was Sister Sheila’s first assignment. She taught second grade there for two years before going to Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston, Texas. In 1960 she taught fifth and sixth grades at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches, Texas.
In 1962 Sister Sheila went to teach at St. Mary School in Whittier, California. After four years she became principal of the school. She moved back to Texas in 1968 to teach English at St. Mary High School in Orange, Texas and then back to Riverside, California where she served two years at teacher and principal. In 1972 St. Francis de Sales merged with Notre Dame High School and she continued teaching here for the next eight years.
In 1980 Sister Sheila came back to Houston, Texas and worked in the Dominican Sister Archives. During this time she researched and wrote the history of the Dominican Sisters of Texas. Her work grew into a great piece of Dominican history. She published Dominican Women of Texas: From Ohio to Galveston and Beyond in 1986.
After the completion of her book in 1986, Sister Sheila went back to the classroom. She taught at St. Pius X and Houston Community College in Houston, Texas and at Holy Spirit Catholic High School in Antelope Valley, Lancaster, California.
While working on her Masters degree in Information Sciences she began working as the librarian at Reicher Catholic High School in Waco, Texas. After four years she moved to Indianapolis, IN and worked as lead librarian at Scecina Memorial High School. Sister Sheila currently serves as the Scecina lead librarian and Director of the Collaborative Learning Center at Bishop Chatard High School.
“It is impossible to list a most memorable experience from my years in my ministries. I enjoy writing, reading, research and all things theatrical and enjoy helping and working with people.”
Hanel, Sr. Mary Magdalen, O.P. (Sr. Rose Magdalen, O.P.)
Sister Mary Magdalen was born in Cameron, Texas. She lived there with her family until she was in the first grade. At that time her family moved to Houston. She attended Aldine Elementary and then moved to Assumption Catholic School when it was built. She attended St. Agnes Academy for high school.
The wonderful sisters who taught her were inspiring. “They were dedicated to helping us learn both religious and academic subjects. The experiences provided us a wonderful background for life!” After high school Sister Mary Magdalen worked at the Veterans Administration. “Although I enjoyed the wonderful, supportive people I worked with, I felt this was not my calling.” After two months she left the VA and she entered the convent in September 1958. “I really believe it was my older sister who was responsible for helping me make the decision. She got a few of the sisters to call me and encourage me to make this step.”
For the past 54 years Sister Mary Magdalen has been teaching and having a wonderful time doing it. She expresses so much love and gratitude. “There have been so many places, so many children and so many supportive principals, teachers and parents.”
Sister Mary Magdalen has taught every grade from pre-K to eighth grade at Queen of Peace Catholic School, Dominican Montessori, St. Anne Catholic School, Regis School for Boys, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, St. Catherine’s Montessori, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School and Gross Elementary in Houston, Texas. She has also taught at Little Flower School in Port Acres, Texas; St. Patrick Catholic School in Lufkin, Texas and Our Lady of Fatima School Catholic School in Texas City, Texas.
Sister Mary Magdalen enjoyed teaching first and second grades the most. “You get to work with them as they are learning how to read and write. When they can do that they can do anything. It is so exciting!”
“I have had so many wonderful and memorable experiences.” In 1990 She was given the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. “It was so amazing. The Bible came alive.” She also recalls with great excitement her opportunity to study and contemplate the course studies of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd with the founder Sofia Cavalletti.
Currently Sister Mary Magdalen is focusing on working at the motherhouse “keeping up the Dominican history” as their archivist. She also continues to teach the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to the children of St. Catherine’s Montessori and serves on their Board of Directors.
She spends her free time working crosswords, doing jigsaw puzzles, reading, listening to music and watching movies. She enjoys gardening, cats and being with family and friends.
Hebert, Sr. Edna Ann, O.P. (Sr. John Michael Hebert, O.P.) +
Sister Edna Ann Hebert was born to Marie Melancon-Hebert and Francis Hebert in Port Arthur, Texas. Sister Edna Ann attended St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur through the second grade and then attended St. James Catholic School from third grade through twelfth grade. Sister Edna Ann recalls having a wonderful time as a child with her parents, brother and two sisters. “Dad loved to tell stories and sing to us. It was a wonderful childhood.”
Even from a young age Sister Edna Ann wanted to be a Sister. “I was in the first grade and loved the sisters who taught me. I would tell them I was going to be a nun one day.” During her high school years she found herself busy with friends, thinking less of entering the convent. After graduation she taught piano lessons. At the age of 21 all the love came back to her and she realized what she wanted to do was to become a Sister. She came to Houston to visit the Dominican Sisters. “I loved them. They were so friendly and kind. That is when I knew that is what I wanted to be.” Sister Edna Ann entered the convent in September 1952.
Sister Edna Ann taught first grade for eleven years at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Houston, Holy Rosary Catholic School in Rosenberg and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Galveston. In 1964 she began her Montessori training after learning about the Montessori Philosophy. “I just loved Montessori. I was already using some of the methodology in my classes. I just didn’t realize it.”
While taking her training she served as the Director of the newly formed Head Start Program for the Houston/Galveston schools in 1965. “We were working in some of the poorest communities. The children didn’t know their colors or alphabets, but when they started learning it, the excitement they had…it was the best.”
She also developed a reading program that was used by many teaching institutions in the US and abroad and spent much of her time giving workshops to educational professionals.
In 1966 she completed her Montessori training and co-founded Dominican Montessori School, which later became St. Catherine’s Montessori. Sister Edna Ann became one of the leading experts in Montessori Education. During her 58 years of teaching she brought Montessori curriculum to other schools as well, including St. Mary of the Purification in Houston and St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur.
“I love teaching children when they first start to read.” In 2000 she became the Director of the Reading Center, which was established for the sole purpose of giving Sister Edna Ann a place to do what she loved. Here she was able to help children from all over Houston learn to read for minimal or no cost to the families.
Over the past 47 years Sister Edna Ann has served in many capacities on the St. Catherine’s Montessori Board of Directors and received Emeritus status upon her retirement in December 2011.
Sister Edna Ann has wonderful stories from her years with her Dominican Sisters. “I feel like we are all one, all a family. Everyone is always kind. I love them all.”
Sister Edna Ann is spending her retirement years visiting friends and family, reading. She maintains her beloved presence at St. Catherine’s, visiting with the children regularly as she attends monthly masses and school-wide events.
Heins, Sr. Mary Frances, O.P. (Lillian Elizabeth Heins) +
11/12/1927 – 03/20/2017
Sister Mary Frances was born in Galveston, Texas on her father’s birthday. She spent her childhood years in Galveston attending Sacred Heart Catholic School through the seventh grade and Dominican High School through the twelfth grade. Sister Mary Frances was taught by other Dominican sisters over these years and was impressed by many of them, including Sister Emerita Pena and Sister Germaine Trahan. In high school she attended a silent retreat and during this time she read a book on St. Dominic. After this, her decision to join the convent was made.
After graduation in 1946 she came to Houston from Galveston and began her studies. Sister Mary Frances attended Dominican College, Lamar University, Notre Dame, Trinity, Sam Houston State, Loyola and the University of St. Thomas in her pursuit of knowledge. She is particularly gifted in the sciences and spent many of her teaching years teaching her favorite things…Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics to high school students. “Chemistry was my favorite, but not my students favorite. But once you had them, they would end up liking it.”
Sister Mary Frances has taught at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School and Monsignor Kelly High School in Beaumont, Texas, at St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas, All Saints Catholic School, St. Christopher Catholic School, St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California. She spent twelve years teaching at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, Texas, where she was also assistant principal. Sister Mary Francis served as principal at O’Connell in Galveston for eight years. Sister Mary Frances went back to St. Pius High School in Houston serving as principal for four years in 1980. She has been on many educational accreditation committees over the years as well.
Sister Mary Frances currently lives at St. Dominic Villa. She spends time working as a receptionist at the front desk and helping in the advancement office. She enjoys reading and doing puzzles. Cryptograms and jumbles are her favorites.
The best part of being a Dominican Sister for Sister Mary has been the community. “We enjoy morning Mass, say evening prayers together and bring forth the heritage of the early days. The community and friendships we have here are blessings.”
Hill, Sr. Lou Ann, O.P. (Sr. M. Madeleine Hill, O.P.) +
04/25/1929 – 04/18/20
Sister Lou Ann Hill was born to Frances Leonard Hill and Arthur Hill. Her family lived in Beaumont, Texas.
In 1947 she entered Sacred Heart Convent. “I felt like it was something I should do. My family was surprised, but they came around to understand this is what I was meant to do.”
Sister Lou Ann attended both Dominican College and later the University of Houston where she earned a Masters in Education. Over her 33 years in the classroom, Sister Lou Ann taught at Sacred Heart Catholic School, St. Pius X High School and at St. Agnes Academy in Houston, at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston and at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and St. Paul Catholic High School in California. “I enjoyed high school. I loved teaching math and science.” After leaving the classroom, Sister Lou Ann spent eleven years as a private tutor helping students succeed in their studies.
In 1983 she worked as a medical technologist at Houston Diagnostic and in 1989 moved to MD Anderson Cancer Center working as an Infectious Control Practitioner. “I enjoyed this job the most. It was different from teaching. People came from all over the world needing help and I was there to help them navigate things. It was very rewarding to see the change you were effecting.”
When asked about what it has meant to her to be a Dominican Sister for the past 68 years, she smiled. “I have enjoyed being a Dominican Sister. It is fulfilling to know I am doing what I should.”
In 1996 Sister Lou Ann retired. She currently lives at St. Dominic Villa with her companion sisters.
Hoelscher, Sr. Paschal, O.P. (Mildren Hoelscher) +
06/04/1921 – 01/20/2016
Sister Paschal Hoelscher was born in Westphalia, Texas. She lived there with her parents, Elenora Neihaus Hoelscher and Godfrey Hoelscher. She and her seven siblings all attended St. Mary’s Catholic School.
The Sisters at St. Mary’s were very influential in her young life. “Their teachings were an extension of what my parents taught me. It was all very natural.” Sister Paschal knew from a young age she wanted to enter the convent. “When I was in the second grade the Sisters told me that if I wanted to be a sister I had to say three Hail Mary’s a day. I did it and here I am.”
Sister Paschal taught for 58 years. “I love little children so the grade I enjoyed teaching the most was the first grade. The littler the better.” Sister taught at Christ the King Catholic School and St. Mary’s Catholic Schools in Houston; St. Anthony Cathedral in Beaumont, St. Anne Catholic School in Nacogdoches, Texas; and St. Charles Catholic School in Nederland, Texas; St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California; St. Patrick Catholic School in Lufkin, Texas; Our Lady’s Catholic School in Sulfur, Louisiana. Sister Paschal spent 35 years teaching at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas.
Sister Paschal retired from teaching in 2002 but continued to be active in the schools. She served as school assistant in the clinic and cafeteria and tutored students as well.
Over these past years she has enjoyed living with her companion Dominican Sisters. “Being a Dominican Sister all these years has been very, very wonderful. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that I have had my dreams fulfilled.”
Sister Paschal currently resides at St. Dominic Village.
Huffstetter, Sr. Ann, O.P.
Sister Ann Huffstetter was born in Kearney, Nebraska. She was the oldest of seven. Sister Ann was educated by the Dominican Sisters of Houston, attending Assumption Catholic School and St. Pius X High School.
She entered the convent in September 1963. “During the summer between my junior and senior years I decided God was asking me to enter the Dominican Sisters of Houston. It was nothing dramatic, just a sense that God was calling. The sisters at school said they had known for a couple of years and were waiting for me to figure it out.”
In 1968 Sister Ann started teaching biology at St. Pius X High School. She was there for eleven years. Her next assignment was at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont where she taught biology for one year. From 1980-1982 she worked in the community as the driver for the sisters who lived at St. Dominic Villa and was the media librarian for the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.
In 1982 Sister Ann became an aide in the physical therapy department at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston and did this work until 1991. From 1991 to 1993 she attended Houston Community College studying physical therapy.
Sister Ann took a physical therapy assistant position in Palestine, Texas. After 21 years she continues to work in Palestine, providing service to all of the public schools of Anderson County and to some home health companies in the area. She also volunteers with the choir at Sacred Heart in Palestine, the Anderson County Community Chorus in Palestine, and is honored to cantor the psalm when she is present for community celebrations. “I was gifted with the ability to sing and was given two semesters of voice training during the novitiate, which has been most helpful to me. It is a great joy to hear the assembly sing during Mass, and the Dominican sisters are one of the best assemblies.”
Sister Ann enjoys gardening, bird watching and cooking. She, too makes orange marmalade from the oranges at the motherhouse. She also enjoys bicycling. This is something that she has loved for many years.
“We grew up hearing this story about when my father was seventeen he rode his bicycle (he was a bicycle messenger) from his hometown of Dallas to Houston. He told me he slept in a field near Centerville, got tired around Huntsville and hitched a ride on into Houston with a trucker. After he rested up a bit, he rode his bicycle to Galveston and back.”
When the national Multiple Sclerosis Society began the MS 150 Sister Ann joined. “As far as I know I am the only religious sister to make the ride for the past 25 years.” The MS150 ride involves a Sunday morning each year where she can be found carrying the psalm with her. “We sing it at Mass, usually at 5:30am, in our bicycle clothes and sunburn. The psalms were meant to be sung, and people are so wonderfully responsive.” She has completed the ride from Houston to Austin, from San Antonio to Corpus Christi and San Antonio to New Braunfels and back.
Hugger, Sr. Mary V., O.P. (Sr. Antoninus Hugger, O.P.)
Sister Mary V. was born in Houston, Texas. She was the third of four children and the only girl. “I was a tomboy. I played sports – volleyball, basketball and softball. I also played sandlot football when the boys would let me.” She attended Holy Name Catholic School and went on to graduate from St. Agnes Academy.
Sister Mary V. entered the convent after graduating high school. “From the second grade I always wanted to be a teacher and a sister. My teachers had a lot to do with it. I was always around them, helping them.” Sister Mary V. had planned on entering Incarnate Word Convent in Houston, but ended up attending high school at St. Agnes with the Dominican Sisters. “When I was a junior Sister Matthew asked me what I was going to do. I told her I was entering Incarnate Word convent. She said, ‘Why don’t you join the Dominicans as we’re teachers too’. I thought about it and prayed about it a lot…and here I am.”
Sister Mary V. attended Mount St. Mary’s in Los Angeles, California. She has a degree from Sacred Heart Dominican College in Houston, Texas. Sister Mary V. also did post graduate work at the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
Sister Mary V. has had many memorable years teaching. “Some of the most rewarding experiences were working with the slower learners and watching them bloom as they saw they could do the work. Our motto ~ “Can the Can’ts”. She has taught at St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas, Assumption Catholic School, Christ the King Catholic School, Corpus Christi Catholic School, St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School and St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas. She went to California and taught at Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Berndardino as well. Sister Mary V. has served as principal at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Rosenberg, Texas, St. Mary’s Catholic School and O’Connell Junior High in Galveston, Texas.
Sister Mary V. is currently teaching two classes, Algebra I and Math 7 at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas. She also assists in the principal’s office there. She enjoys watching football and basketball, reading mystery books and gardening.
Jinks, Sr. Wanda, O.P. (Sr. Daniel Marie Jinks, O.P.)
Sister Wanda was born in Dallas, Texas but the family moved to Beaumont, Texas when she was three years old. She attended elementary school at Pennsylvania Elementary. She went on to attend St. Anthony Grammar School and St. Anthony High School in Beaumont, where she was introduced to the Dominican sisters. She remembers the joy and kindness of the sisters who taught her. During the summer of her junior year Sister Wanda began to think about religious life. She attended Lamar University in Beaumont upon her high school graduation and after two years of study Sister Wanda entered Sacred Heart Convent. “God kept putting the idea in my head. I had to check it out.”
Sister Wanda spent her first years teaching math and sciences at St. Mary Cathedral Catholic School in Galveston, Texas, St. Mary Catholic Elementary and High School in Orange, Texas, and Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California. In addition to teaching she served as Athletic Director and coach for girls’ volleyball, basketball and softball.
In 1980 Sister Wanda worked at the Houston ISD Outdoor Education Center in Trinity, Texas. Here fifth graders from different HISD schools would learn about the environment and how to work together as a team. After teaching outdoor education for a year she went to teach at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School and Seton Catholic Junior High in Houston, Texas. From 1984 to 1991, Sister Wanda taught at St. Pius X High School. She enjoyed her seven years at the school and has wonderful memories of the students and faculty there. During this time she was also attending the University of Houston and in 1989 Sister Wanda earned her Master of Education in Secondary Science Education and Teacher Certification in Math and Science.
In 1992 Sister Wanda taught special education at Hope Center for Youth Girls Wilderness School in Groveton, Texas. This program provided a place for girls who had educational and emotional struggles. Sister Wanda says she has gravitated to her work as a special education teacher. “I would find myself in the corner of the underdog, always looking for ways I could help the children who struggled.”
In 1995 Sister Wanda went to Port Neches, Texas where she helped found the Behavior Management Program at Port Neches-Groves High School. “Many of these students had learning disabilities that caused them to be unsuccessful in school and they didn’t want to work. That often led to the students being defiant and disruptive. They needed someone who would care about them, encourage them, and be consitstent.” Sister Wanda left Port Neches-Groves High School in 2002 and taught at Vidor High School in Vidor, Texas until 2004.
In 2006 Sister Wanda began teaching at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas. For the past eight years she has taught and encouraged many students with learning and behavioral challenges. “You have to be patient and flexible and you have to take the time to figure out how a student can best learn. I get so excited to see their progress.” She recalls one autistic child who was unable to write down what she had been taught in her science class. “When I looked at her papers she had drawn a picture representing the cell cycle. Her drawing showed that she had grasped the concepts. It was wonderful!”
Sister Wanda retired from her teaching position at Sharpstown this past May. She is currently volunteering at St. Dominic Villa and plans to spend a few days a week at St. Pius X High School helping students in the Learning Center. Sister Wanda plans to continue her work with the girls’ summer camp sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Houston. Over the past 12 years she has enjoyed this very much. She also plans to explore her interests in photography, making photo note cards, experiencing wildlife and our National Parks and learning more about computers.
“I love my life as a Dominican sister. I would not be nearly as happy as I am if I weren’t a Dominican. I like being in community. We work together for a collective purpose. We help each other. We see each others’ unique gifts and are encouraged to be who we are. The things we do are with a collective interest. I feel blessed to be here.”
Konecny, Sr. Mignonne, O.P. (Sr. Margaret Jerome Konecny, O.P.)
Sister Mignonne was born in San Antonio, Texas. She is the only child of Margie and L.J. Konecny. The family moved to Houston when she was young. The family lived in the Heights and she has fond memories of camping and visiting her grandparents. As a child she became a lifelong baseball fan. Her father traveled during most of her childhood and she recalls with fondness going to games with him when he was home. Sister Mignonne attended All Saints Catholic School and then St. Agnes Academy where she was taught by Dominican Sisters. “The Dominicans were an important part of my life. They were wonderful women who taught us and made lasting impressions.”
Sister Mignonne attended St. Louis University after graduating from St. Agnes Academy. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and had minors in history and philosophy. Afterward she went back to school to earn her teaching certificate. In 1960 she entered the Dominican Convent, hoping to influence young people as the Dominican Sisters had influenced her.
Sister Mignonne has taught at St. Agnes Academy, St. Pius X High School and Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School. She received her Masters of Education in Supervision from Lamar University. She was asked to take the position of academic counselor but instead took the time to study theology at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. While attending school herself, she taught at Antonian College Preparatory High School.
Her next ministry was at St. Alphonsus Parish in San Antonio. She worked with the children’s religious education program and taught scripture to adults. “My life changed after I began this ministry. I learned from the congregation what it meant to be a Christian community.” The parish was part of a new, institutional based organization called Communities Organized for Public Services (COPS) that was helping people take control of their lives and bring about major changes in their neighborhood. “The community addressed issues with streets, drainage, housing, schools. It was something foreign to my experiences and it was real.” Sister Mignonne got involved with this program and remembers one day asking one of the mothers why she spent so much time at the parish working on things. “The mother’s reply was, ‘I used to go to Mass on Christmas, Easter and Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then when COPS came into the parish, I saw that the church really cared about me and my family. The priests and people wanted to make the schools better and to improve the neighborhood and I wanted to be a part of that’.”
Over the past 30 years Sister Mignonne has continued to work with organizations like COPS in Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley. “This is my way to be Christian, to be Dominican, to have an impact on people’s lives. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn, to grow and to be.”
Sister Mignonne continues to work with this network of organizations united through the Industrial Areas Foundation, primarily with workforce development programs. These programs assist adults who are stuck in low paying jobs to attend community college and obtain credentials to move to jobs that pay good wages. She plans to continue in this ministry as long as her experience continues allowing people to develop the power to change their lives.
La Cour, Sr. Thomas Ann, O.P. (Evelyn Ann La Cour)
Sister Thomas Ann was born in Beaumont, Texas. She first met the Dominican Sisters when attending St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School. “Sister Thomas Margaret Zagst taught me. She inspired me. I wanted to be just like her.” Sister Thomas Ann graduated valedictorian from St Anthony’s in May of 1959 and entered the convent that fall.
She graduated from Dominican College with a BA in Education. She taught science and math for nine years at St. Joseph Catholic School and went on to serve as principal at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California and St. Jerome Catholic School in Houston, Texas.
“I have always been a person of the outdoors.” In 1980 Sister Thomas Ann took a teaching position at the Houston ISD Outdoor Education Center. She was there for two years and in 1982 she opened the School of Environmental Education, providing environmental education for the Catholic schools in the surrounding dioceses, continuing her mission of taking care of God’s creation…our environment.
Sister Thomas Ann’s work is about bringing her love of the children and the environment together. “Children learn so much more by being involved in hands on things rather than in a desk behind a book.”
In 1985 Sister Thomas Ann received her Masters in Agriculture and Wildlife Sciences from Texas A&M University. As a leader in environmental teaching she has been acknowledged many times. She has been designated as an Outdoor Education Specialist by the Outdoor Education Institute of Texas A&M. In 1986 Sister Thomas Ann’s work in environmental education was recognized by the Texas Outdoor Education Association and in 1992 she was recognized by former Governor of Texas, Ann Richards as one of a special group of 42 teachers serving as Trainers for the Texas Water Commission’s statewide environmental education program. In 1993 she was honored by Keep Texas Beautiful for her creative leadership and initiative in achieving a clean and beautiful environment in Texas.
“God called me to be a Dominican and this community is my family. Because of the support of the Dominican Sisters, I have been able to do all of this work. They have always supported me and have given me the freedom to pursue my passion of taking care of God’s earth.”
LaCour, Sr. Carletta, O.P. (Carolyn Patricia LaCour)
Sister Carletta was born in Beaumont, Texas. She lived there with her parents and four sisters and attended St. Anne Catholic School and St. Anthony High School. Sister Carletta has fond memories of her childhood, recalling that her mother would dress her and her sister, Sister Thomas Ann LaCour, alike when they were little.
After graduation Sister Carletta worked for Coburn Plumbing Supply for a year and in September of 1958 she entered the convent. Sister Carletta had wanted to be a sister since she was ten years old. She has fond memories of the sisters dressing her up in their habits for a play. “I just wanted to do something important with my life.”
Sister Carletta received a Bachelors of Education from Dominican College and has taught for over 30 years. Her assignments include St. Mary’s Catholic School in Galveston, Texas, St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School in Houston, Texas, and St. Austin Catholic School in Austin, Texas. She was in the St. Austin community for ten years, three of which she served as principal.
In 1977 Sister Carletta worked as the assistant of Sister Edna Ann Hebert, O.P. at
St. Mary’s Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas. A few years later she became certified as a Montessori guide and began teaching her own class at St. Mary of the Purification in Houston, Texas. She served the community for five years as a Montessori guide and two as principal. She later went to Central Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas. For nine years Sister Carletta taught in the Montessori classroom there.
In 1995 Sister Carletta took a sabbatical in Kingston, New York where she learned earn T’ai Chi Chih and became certified to teach the meditative exercise. After a year she came back to Texas and served at the Holy Family Retreat Center for five years in Beaumont, Texas. During this time she earned her Spiritual Direction certification from the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston, Texas.
In 2001 she was asked to organize the events for the meeting room in Houston. In addition to those duties she taught T’ai Chi Chih in several places. “I enjoyed my commitments teaching T’ai Chi Chih to adults and the children at St. Catherine’s Montessori School in Houston, Texas.” In 2012 Sister Carletta went to Rockport, Texas to teach at Sacred Heart Catholic School. The next year she moved to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas.
A few of the most memorable experiences for Sister Carletta have been the trips to the Holy Land and to the Lands of Dominic. “The Dominican Order is 800 years old and when I say I am a Dominican, 800 years of history role out of that one word.” She is proud to be a Dominican Sister and she draws strength from her membership. “People recognize what it is to be Dominican. They know what we say, what we do and what we stand for.”
Sister Carletta continues to work and teach in Taylor. Her hobbies are walking, sailing and teaching T’ai Chi Chih.
Lindee, Sr. Lauren, O.P. (Marguerite Lindee)
Sister Lauren Lindee was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before settling in Houston, Sister Lauren lived in Beaumont with her parents and five siblings. While in Houston she attended St. Anne Catholic School and then went on to graduate from St. Agnes Academy.
In September 1959 Sister Lauren entered the convent. “In high school I was inspired by the Dominican Sisters who taught us. The sisters educated us with a serenity that flowed from their commitment to Christ. They bonded as a community of women totally dedicated to their mission. After much prayer and reflection, I came to believe that God was calling me to join them in their way of life.”
Sister Lauren has been dedicated to her mission. For over forty-two years she taught in a number of our Houston schools including St. Christopher’s Catholic School, St. Mary’s Catholic School, St. Catherine’s Montessori School, St. Anne’s Catholic School, Resurrection Catholic School, St. Pius X High School, St. Agnes Academy and Marian Christian High School. She also taught at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches, Texas.
Sister Lauren has many fond memories of her time teaching. “One memory I have is of the skits and plays we performed. My students transformed themselves into a never-ending cast of characters. All it took was a red bandana here or a grey felt hat there for their creativity to blossom.”
In 2006 Sister Lauren became the Director of Religious Education at St. Genevieve Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana. She has been serving this community for the past eight years. “I hope to continue in this ministry as long as I am able. I will then return to Houston, trusting that God will call me to discipleship in ways that are new and surprising.”
When she is not serving at St. Genevieve Parish, she enjoys cake decorating, calligraphy, and creating concrete leaves by using natural elephant ear plants as molds. She continues to educate herself through biblical studies as well.
Macey, Sr. Theresa, O.P.
Sister Theresa was born in Houston, Texas where she lived with her parents and five siblings. She attended Holy Name Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy and was influenced by the Dominican Sisters who educated her. Sister Theresa had plans of entering the convent right after her high school graduation, but went on to attend the University of St. Thomas with her father’s encouragement.
Sister Theresa followed her heart and entered the convent in 1956 after graduating from the University of St. Thomas. For ten years she taught at St. Peter of the Apostle Catholic School and Sacred Heart Catholic School in Houston, Texas and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Orange, Texas.
In 1966 she answered an appeal from Pope John XXIII for religious communities to minister in Latin America. She took a crash course in Spanish and headed to Guatemala with Sisters Mary Alice Carbajal and Siena Schmitt. Sister Theresa spent the next several years moving around the region working with the youth in the areas she ministered. She brought education and religion programs to the many impoverished youth, empowering them to become future leaders. “I enjoyed working with the youth groups, forming them to be leaders. We helped them to understand how to make a better place for themselves and others, how to make a better Guatemala.”
Her work in Guatemala was often dangerous with the political unrest and the extreme political and social divisions among the people, but this only increased the importance of the mission and furthered her determination to work with the youth and poor. The sisters established a Catholic school in Zacapa. Sister Theresa was also involved in the establishment of San Vicente de Paul School in Guatemala City. The programs were very successful. Over 85% of the youth completed the programs and went on to pursue higher education.
Sister Theresa’s effort also included annual parish visits in the Galveston-Houton Archdiocese to fund and maintain the Guatemala mission. Sister Theresa has dedicated over 40 years of her life to her ministry in Guatemala. “I worked hard and whatever I did I tried to do it as best I could.” Her hard work was recognized by the Nicaragua Presidential Commission in May of 2006 with the award for Human Rights for her 40 year effort in fostering a culture of peace.
Sister Theresa currently resides at St. Dominic Village where she enjoys reading and visiting with friends and family.
Mayes, Sr. Carol, O.P. (Sister John Magdalen Mayes, O.P.)
Sister Carol was born in Houston, Texas. She is an only child and lived here in Houston her entire childhood. She attended Montrose Elementary and St. Agnes Academy in middle school and high school. Sister Carol entered the order after she graduated from St. Agnes Academy in 1956. “The sisters who taught me were happy, dedicated and inspiring.”
In 1958 Sister Carol was assigned to her first school, Christ the King Catholic School in Houston, Texas, were she taught the seventh grade. From 1961 to 1967 she taught middle school and high school at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Charles Catholic School in Nederland, Texas and at St. Pius X High Schhol in Houston, Texas. In 1967 she went on to St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas, where she taught math and theology, as well as being Assistant Principal. From 1968 to 1976 she served as Principal at O’Connell Junior High and O’Connell High School in Galveston, Texas.
Sister Carol served as the Vocation and Formation Director for the community. She served in this capacity until 1981 until she began her Clinical Pastoral Education at Ben Taub Hospital. “My year as chaplain at Ben Taub was very formative. I saw how the poor trust, and in the midst of grief, pain and loss.”
After a year as chaplain she came back to do work in the community, serving on the Council from 1982-1986 and then being elected to serve as Prioress in 1986. Between the years of 1993 and 2010, Sister Carol’s ministered at Guadalupe Social Services, she was Pastoral Associate at St. Cecilia’s Church in Houston and worked as the Dominican Family/Spirituality Center Coordinator.
Sister Carol currently serves at Prioress. “It is a privilege to serve the community as prioress and also to work with Dominicans all over.” She also spends time working with the Dominican Family and serving on the Boards of Angela House, St. Luke’s and Baylor, St. Dominic Village, St. Pius X High School and St. Agnes Academy.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling and time with friends.
Meyer, Sr. Jane, O.P. (Sr. Vincent Margaret, O.P.)
Sister Jane grew up in Houston, Texas with her loving parents and sister. She attended St. Anne Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy. Sister Jane entered Sacred Heart convent after graduating from St. Agnes Academy. “I felt called to Dominican life. I was inspired by the sisters who taught me.”
Sister Jane began teaching at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Houston, Texas. Over the years she also taught at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas and Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, Texas. After six years as teacher at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School she was asked to serve as principal of the school. “I really loved my time in Beaumont. Part of my heart is still there. I went to a reunion recently and saw so many who I had been part of their lives. It was wonderful to see what they had done in their lives.”
Sister Jane returned to her alma mater, St. Agnes Academy, where she currently serves as Head of School. “I am very blessed to have been able to return to St. Agnes. St. Agnes gave me so much and now is my opportunity to give back. I believe strongly in women’s education. It is so important that we help each young women claim her God-given gifts, develop her unique voice and her bold message for the world and lead with integrity and compassion.”
Over the years Sister Jane has been acknowledged for many great things. “What I want to be known for is being a teacher and a leader.” As a teacher, her leadership has effected change for so many. “Challenging people to grow and do whatever they were created to do is so important and it is exciting to see how these students give back to the world as adults. Everywhere I go, I see our alums living the Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community and preaching. It makes me happy and proud.”
Sister Jane’spassion for education and service continue to keep her busy as Head of School at St. Agnes Academy. She enjoys being with those at St. Agnes and can be found on any given day working with students, faculty, parents and the community, attending sports events, musicals, retreats. When she is not busy at school she enjoys her time with her fellow sisters. She loves being a Dominican sister and believes the work she has been able to do was made possible by the support of the community. “I always feel supported. We all share the same dreams and hopes and it makes all the difference when you are standing together.”
Morales, Sr. Therese Marie, O.P. (Elena Helen Morales
Sister Therese Marie was born in Whittier, California to Guadalupe and Margarita Morales. She spent her childhood years in Whittier with her parents and five siblings, living right across the street from St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church and school. “I have been attached to the Dominicans since I was born.” Sister Therese Marie attended St. Mary’s through the eighth grade and attended Sacred Heart of Mary in Montebello for high school. After high school graduation Sister Therese Marie moved to Houston, Texas, where she entered Sacred Heart convent.
Sister Therese Marie attended Dominican College, graduating with a Bachelor degree in Education and Spanish. She attended the University of California in Riverside, receiving additional certifications in Elementary and Secondary Education.
Sister Therese Marie’s first teaching assignment was at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Houston, Texas. “I love to teach. I have taught all of the grades, first grade through high school.” Sister Therese Marie has taught at schools in Houston, Port Neches, Beaumont and Austin, Texas. In 1968 she moved to California. During her years there she taught at St. Mary of the Assumption in Whittier, California, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and Notre Dame High School in Riverside, California and St. Paul Catholic High School in Sante Fe Springs, California.
Sister Therese Marie has many wonderful memories of her years teaching. “One year I was assigned to teach the yearbook class at St. Francis de Sales. The kids taught me.” She continued as the teacher in this class for many years. While teaching at St. Paul Catholic High School, she participated in the Sister City Organization and accompanied students to Mexico and Germany on several occasions. “It was a wonderful experience. We made life long friends.”
Sister Therese Marie currently lives in Whittier, California. She is happy to be with family and in a place that is familiar to her. She retired from teaching full time in 2004 and from substituting in 2010. Today, she continues her ministry, serving as Eucharistic Minister for St. Mary of the Assumption. “I absolutely love it. I go to the hospital and visit the sick and homebound. There is a family I have been ministering to for several months. You get to know them. It is wonderful.”
In Whittier, Sister Therese Marie lives the Dominican charism, just as those Dominican sisters did those years ago as she was growing up. “I loved the sisters. They were part of my family. It is hard to put into words what being a Dominican sister m
Oliveros, Sr. Miriam, O.P.
Sister Miriam was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She lived with her family, attending Miraculous Medal Elementary School and Sacred Heart Secondary School there. “What I really treasure from my childhood are the evenings when my father, mom and the five of us children sat around the dining table to play games like Chinese Checkers, it was so much fun. I could feel the love among us.”
She went on to attend Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala. In January 1970 Sister Miriam entered the convent in Zacapa, where the Mission was established in 1966. “Community life inspired me to enter the convent. When the Dominican Sisters of Houston came to Guatemala from Zacapa, I went from the city to live with them and four other teachers. I taught in the Parish School where they were. I loved to get up early and pray with the sisters, go to Mass everyday and teach the little ones. They were happy.”
Over her 44 years as a Dominican she has done many things. Sister Miriam has taught at Maria Inmaculada in Zacapa. She was the religion teacher at the public schools, Panamericana and Estado de Israel. She did parish work at San Francisco de Asis and taught kindergarten at Colegio Belen. From 1974-1978, Sister Miriam spent four years in Houston where she taught kindergarten at St. Christopher Catholic School. After returning to Guatemala she taught kindergarten at Programa Educativo Santo Domingo. Later she was asked to serve as principal of San Vincente de Paul Bethania.
In 1995 Sister Miriam took sabbatical year at Aquinas Institute of Theology in
St. Louis, Missouri. Sister Miriam also earned a degree in family counseling from Centro Integral de Orientación Familiar Arquidiocesano in Guatemala.
One of her most memorable experiences was when she worked in San Francisco. “I worked at St. Francisco de Asis Parish when the neighborhood had only sixty Asis families. The priest started celebrating the Sunday Mass in the homes. My job was to get the houses ready for the Mass, prepare everything. My friend and I did the music. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it. It was a good experience.”
Sister Miriam is currently living in Guatemala. She is serving as the Head Director and Family Counselor at San Vicente de Paul in Guatemala. In her spare time she reads, enjoys jigsaw puzzles and cross stitch. When asked what she enjoys most about being a Dominican Sister she said, “Community life. I love it.”
Olsovsky, Sr. Mary Jean, O.P. (Doris Jean Olsovsky)
Sister Mary Jean was born in Taylor, Texas. She and her family lived on a farm and she recalls spending the summers working with her parents in the field, taking care of animals, collecting vegetables and fruits from the garden and fruit trees. Her dad was a beekeeper so she even helped get the honey. Sister Mary Jean attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Taylor.
In September 1960 Sister Mary Jean entered Sacred Heart convent. “I always wanted to make a difference in my life. A life of service always attracted me! I felt I could serve others best if I belonged to a religious congregation. The Sisters at St. Mary’s encouraged me to enter.”
Sister Mary Jean attended Dominican College and later attended the University of San Francisco.
Her first teaching assignment was at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She taught 5th grade. She moved to St. Joseph Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas and then to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Nederland, Texas and was there for three years. In 1968 Sister Mary Jean moved back to Houston and taught math and science at Assumption Catholic School for one year before moving to Whittier, California where she taught eighth grade for five years at St. Mary’s Catholic School. In 1973 Sister Mary Jean served as principal at Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California until 1979. She came back to Texas, teaching 6th grade at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Austin for two years. In 1981 she became principal of Sacred Heart, serving that community for an additional 21 years.
In 2003 Sister Mary Jean moved to Georgetown, Texas teaching second grade for four years before becoming the principal at St. Helen Catholic School. “My ministry has been Catholic education. My greatest challenge is creating a Catholic school environment in today’s society. At this time, St. Helen Catholic School has the strongest Catholic identity of the schools in which I have served.” Sister Mary Jean continues to serve as principal of St. Helen Catholic School today. “The goal is to provide a Catholic school that offers a strong academic program integrated with Gospel values.”
Sister Mary Jean currently lives in Georgetown, Texas. She enjoys baking, embroidery and gardening.
Owens, Sr. Rita Marie, O.P. (Patricia Marie Owens) +
03/25/1937 – 01/27/2017
Sister Rita Owen was born in Port Arthur, Texas where she lived with her family until she entered the convent. She attended St. Mary Catholic School and Bishop Byrne High School graduating as Valedictorian in 1956.
Sister Rita taught for several years at several schools including St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School in Houston, Texas, St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Whittier, California, and St. Christopher Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She also had the responsibility of teaching and being assistant principal at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School in Beaumont and principal at Francis de Sales Catholic School in Houston, Texas.
After leaving St. Christopher Catholic School, she went to do parish work at St. Frances Cabrini and St. Charles in Nederland, where she was in charge of adult formation for several years.
In 1986 she became the Director of Social Services at Christ the King Catholic Church. Here she worked to organize other churches to provide food for the poor, trying to help families get out of the trap of poverty. This meaningful work led her to the next chapter.
In 1988 Sister Rita and Sister Justin approached the Cornelius Ryan Burkitt Foundation and they gave the sisters a house in the Montrose area for homeless and abused women. “It was a dream come true.” Wellsprings Village was founded and the house provided the sisters a place to continue their work, focusing on helping women with life skill development and education. The success of this program allowed Sister Rita and Sister Justin to expand the program and now Wellsprings Inc. has a total of seven homes where they housed women in need, giving them the support and education they need to succeed. The other home is for administrative offices. Sister Rita continued this work until she retired in 2012.
When Sister Rita looks back on her work, she has fond memories of her teaching years as well as the years she spent working with the women of Houston. Our Dominican goal in 1986 was to address through education and action the needs of women. “Being a Dominican Sister is a perfect fit. I lived with Sister Justin and the women in need for over 25 years and really learned what they needed to succeed. This work gave us a real sense of responding to a need, which is what we are called to do. As a Dominican, we are preachers, preaching the word of God. It’s a way of living the spirit of our Dominican Order. That is what we are doing working with the poor and helping them get out of the trap of poverty.”
Sister Rita is retired and currently lives at St. Dominic Villa, with her fellow retired sisters.
Pena, Sr. Gertrude, O.P. (Sr. M. Gertrude Pena, O.P.)
Sister Gertrude was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. She grew up the youngest of 10 children living and working on the family farm. She attended the Little Yellow Schoolhouse next door.
Sister Gertrude recalls knowing that there was something great about church but to young to understand who God was. At age eleven she told her Aunt Lena when she wanted to be a sister just like two of her cousins, Sister Emerita Pena and Sister Celestine Pena. In June of 1946 Sister Gertrude entered the Sacred Heart convent and in 1953 made her Final Profession.
In 1949 Sister Gertrude promised her first vows and was given her first assignment where she taught at Sacred Heart School in Galveston. She loved it. She recalls the six years she spent there as “really wonderful years”.
In 1953 she made her final profession and was sent to teach in Austin, Texas at St. Austin Catholic School. Sister Gertrude went on to teach at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California and Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California.
It was during her years at Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino where she teamed up with Sister Mary Peter Tremonte and started teaching art after school. After this great experience she discovered her own gift in the arts and she claimed it. Sister Gertrude continued her study of children’s art at the San Diego College for Women in San Diego, California.
On her return to Texas she began working as an art teacher and did so for twelve years in numerous schools. “I had the time of my life teaching art to little children, teaching them to appreciate themselves and what they could do with those tiny little fingers.”
When asked about what it has meant to her to be part of the Dominican Community, she spoke lovingly of the other Sisters, the time they spend together and the work they have done in the community together. “You know you are not the only one believing, worshipping and working toward the same goals.”
Sister Gertrude currently lives at St. Dominic Villa and her hobby list is still expanding.
Pitre, Sr. Josephina, O. P. (Dorothy Ann Pitre)
Sister Josephina Pitre was born in Franklin, Louisiana. Her parents, Ollie V. Blanchette Pitre and Joseph Pitre moved the family to Orange, Texas when she was just a baby. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School for all twelve grades.
“All the teachers were sisters.” She remembers thinking about becoming a nun in the second grade. She would think about it on and off for many years until the eighth grade. The thought of entering the convent came back when she was a senior in high school and it never left. She graduated high school and entered the convent in September 1954.
Sister Josephina’s first teaching position was teaching second grade at St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur where she was responsible for doing the children’s sacramental preparation. “It was a big responsibility. I will never forget it.” The next year she was asked to teach the first grade and loved it! She has fond memories of Sister Clarice who was principal during those years. She would help the teachers on Saturdays, giving them support they needed to develop as better teachers.
Sister Josephina taught at St. Christopher Catholic School, Christ the King Catholic School, and Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She also taught in California and in La Marque, Texas. Sister Josephina found herself back at St. Mary Catholic School in Orange, Texas in 1973. She was there for ten years. She enjoyed teaching the children of her former classmates. In 1983 she went to teach at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School in Beaumont where she taught until 2007. “The best part of teaching was teaching the first grade. I would get them when they were eager to learn. I enjoyed teaching them religion, art and their phonograms.”
In 2007 she retired from teaching and worked in the library and office at St. Anthony’s. During this time Sister Josephina cared for her mother and spent time with her family. “I had the great honor of taking care of my mother until she died.
Sister Josephina spends her time now painting. She plans to finish details on several paintings. She currently lives with her Dominican Sisters at the Villa. “Our community is knit together giving it a feeling of such togetherness.”
Pollard, Sr. Donna, O.P.
Sister Donna was born in Queens, New York and lived with her parents and younger brother and sister in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Sister Donna has fond memories of spending time with her close knit Italian-Irish family. She loved hearing her grandparents, great aunts and uncles stories and spending time with them. She remembers spending hours outside playing with friends in the neighborhood and looking forward to summer trips to the beautiful beaches on Long Island.
Sister Donna attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine School for grammar school and Bishop Reilly High School and St. Francis Preparatory School all in New York. “I had wonderful teachers in grammar school and high school, some of whom were/are vowed religious women. They were my role models and mentors.”
Upon high school graduation Sister Donna attended Queens College in New York for two years and then transferred to the University of Houston in 1978. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education in 1980. “I met the Dominican sisters and friars in campus ministry while at the University of Houston. I loved the experience of Dominican men and women working collaboratively in ministry. I immediately felt a connection with the Houston Dominican sisters, especially Sister Mary Grace Peters, who was my mentor and friend.” Sister Donna entered the convent in July 1982.
Sister Donna taught science and coached at St. Pius X High School from 1980-1983. In 1983 she went to work at Ben Taub Hospital serving as chaplain there. During this time she was attending the University of St. Thomas where she received her Clinical Pastoral Education Certificate in 1984.
In 1985 she went back to St. Pius X High School, serving as the Science Department Chair, teacher and coach. During this time Sister Donna also received her Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1988 she served as the Dean of Students, teacher and coach at St. Agnes Academy for three years. In 1994 Sister Donna received her Master of Education in Private School Administration from Boston College.
For the past 23 years Sister Donna has served as Principal and Head of School at St. Pius X. “I have a rich experience, a collection of all of the wonderful relationships that I have formed with students, families and colleagues with whom I have ministered. I have enjoyed and grown from all of my ministerial experiences.”
Sister Donna currently lives in Houston and enjoys traveling, sports, cooking, technology and genealogy research.
Rembold, Sr. Mary Laura, O.P. (Mary Teresa Rembold) +
10/27/1942 – 05/25/2022
Sr. Mary Laura Rembold, O.P. (Mary Teresa) entered eternal life on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Sr. Mary Laura was born in Evansville, IN, October 27, 1942, to the late Roy and Louise Malone Rembold. She was predeceased by her two brothers, Tony Rembold and Jimmy Rembold. She is survived by her brother, Joe Rembold, her two sisters, Anne Rembold and Kate Richardson, her brother-in-law, George Richardson, and numerous other extended family members.
Following graduation from St. Francis De Sales High School in Riverside, CA, in 1960, Sr. Mary Laura entered the Dominican Sisters of Houston. She earned a B.A. in English at Dominican College, Houston; an M.P.S.A. in Private School Administration from the University of San Francisco, CA; and Certification in Ministry from Mt. St. Mary College, Los Angeles, CA.
Sr. Mary Laura served in education ministry at Assumption School, Houston; Queen of Peace School, Houston; Little Flower School, Port Arthur, TX; Holy Rosary School, San Bernardino, CA; and St. Francis De Sales School, Riverside, CA, where she taught for 49 years. She taught kindergarten through fourth grade and especially loved teaching reading and language arts. Sr. Mary Laura was a dedicated teacher wholly devoted to her students. She inspired generations of students at St. Francis and had the privilege of teaching the children and grandchildren of some of her former students.
Upon retirement in 2017, she returned to Houston to live with the community where she continued ministering to others. Her congregational service included her ministry as receptionist at St. Dominic Villa, driving sisters to appointments, giving mission appeals in the Archdiocese, helping with donor appreciation, and attending to many other needs of the community with great care. She will be remembered for her capacity to love those around her unconditionally.
Roeger, Sr. Cecile “Ceil”, O.P
Sister Ceil was born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. She was one of six children and has fond memories of spending the summers outdoors with them and the neighbor children, playing games and going to the lake; in the winter, ice skating and sled riding. Sister Ceil attended Most Precious Blood Grade School and Central Catholic High School in Ft. Wayne.
“I am what is considered a late vocation to Consecrated Life entering the community on August 31, 1990. “ Sister Ceil was 49. “I met the Dominican Sisters in the late 1970’s and found that my interests in feminism and other justice issues were in line with theirs. Several sisters attended many of the same groups that I did and I found myself drawn to their charism. The support in standing together when speaking out on issues inspired me to answer Sister Paula’s call to ‘Come and See’.”
Before entering the order, Sister Ceil graduated from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Ft. Wayne. She went on to work at the state psychiatric hospital. Eventually she found herself back at St. Joseph’s Hospital as part of the team that opened a psychiatric ward at the hospital. In 1969 she moved to Texas and began working within the Memorial Hospital System (now Memorial Hermann Health Care System).
During her years at Memorial Hospital she attended the University of Houston, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Houston Baptist University with a Masters in Human Resource Management. In 1996 she graduated from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio with a Masters in Theological Studies.
Since entering the community most of Sister Ceils’ service has been within the Dominican Community. From 1998-2001 she served as the Administrator at St. Dominic Villa. “This was an enriching experience that provided an opportunity to get to know the sisters along with the history of the community as I listened to their stories.”
In 2001 she moved to Oak Park, Illinois, suburb of Chicago and lived in an Alliance House of Preaching with sisters from other Dominican congregations. This experience was challenging and enriching. “There were four of us from three different Dominican Congregations. While each of us was engaged in a different ministry, our goal was to make community life a priority. Each of us made an effort to be present for morning and evening prayers and for evening meals. Our community life included making sure we had fun together. We celebrated birthdays and holidays together.”
Sister Ceil returned to Houston in 2005 and assumed the role of Promoter of Justice, Peace and Care of Creation for the community. She still serves in this position today.
In her free time, Sister Ceil enjoys reading and movies. “I like being active and enjoy walking along the bayou and in Hermann Park.”
Schexnayder, Sr. Lucia, O.P. (Patricia Schexnayder)
Sister Lucia was born Patricia Schexnayder in Houston, Texas. “I was born the night before St. Patrick’s Day, thus my name. I’ve always celebrated both days, at least all of my adult life.” She was born 10 years after the youngest boy. Sister Lucia remembers growing up as if she were an only child due to the age difference. She attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School and went on to graduate from St. Agnes Academy in 1951.
In September 1951 she entered the convent. “It was the Dominican Sisters who taught me at St. Agnes. Not only were they excellent teachers, but they were genuinely interested in us. They spent lots of time with us. I wanted to be like them.”
In 1953 Sister Lucia started teaching at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston. She went on to teach at Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California and at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California. She was the founding principal at both St. Catherine Catholic School in Port Arthur, Texas from 1961-1965 and at St. Thomas More Catholic School in Houston from 1965-1975.
From 1975 to 1987 Sister Lucia ministered in various capacities on “the block” (the Motherhouse at Almeda and Holcombe). She served as Activities Coordinator at St. Dominic Retirement Home for four years. She also worked at St. Dominic Nursing Home. Sister Lucia was moving coordinator for the community when they moved from the motherhouse to the new buildings. She then served as the Administrator of St. Dominic Villa where the retired sisters live.
Since 1988 Sister Lucia has served as Social Services Director and minister to senior adults at St. Joseph’s parish in Houston, Texas. “I have many stories from many places. I have always been happy in my ministry, whether I was teaching children, helping senior citizens or serving the poor of all ages in social ministry. I feel fulfilled knowing that I am helping people. “I feel fulfilled knowing that I am helping people. I thank God that I have been able to do this as a Dominican Sister for over 60 years.”
Schwender, Sr. Lavergne, O.P. (Paul Mary Schwender, O.P.)
Sister Lavergne was born in Houston, Texas to Lawrence and Arminda Schwender. Sister grew up with three siblings and attended St. Christopher Catholic School and then St. Agnes Academy. She graduated in May 1960 and went on to attend Dominican College in the fall. At the time Sister was working for the telephone company and studying business.
“I had felt the calling in high school, but while I was attending Dominican College the calling got stronger and stronger. I felt it was the will of God.” Sister Lavergne entered the convent in 1963.
Sister Lavergne started her teaching years at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral Catholic School teaching the fifth grade. She went on to St. Pius X High School where she was able to use her teaching and business degrees. She taught business at St. Pius X High School for six years and during this time she attended summer school at the University of Texas at Austin working on getting her MBA. In 1973 she became the Director of Newman Hall in Austin.
In 1978 she took some time out of the classroom to attend law school. She graduated in May 1981 with a degree in law from the University of Houston. “When I graduated I put my resume out to everyone.” She was hired and worked in the Harris County Attorney’s Office and this is where she worked for 21 years. While serving in this capacity, she was asked to use her skills in law and business and help draft the first 9-1-1 legislation for Harris County. Sister Lavergne, and former Dominican Sister Laverne Hogan, saw this legislation pass in 1983 and helped establish an operational 9-1-1 system in 1986. In 2011, the Emergency 9-1-1 Institute (National 9-1-1 Agency in Washington) presented Greater Harris County
9-1-1 with the Outstanding 9-1-1 Program Award.
In 2005, Sister Lavergne became the Executive Director of the Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network. She still serves the community in this capacity. “It is one of the largest systems in the country. I am very proud of what we have done with
“Being a Dominican has defined my life. It has made me aware of all social justice issues that as a layperson I would not know about. The community here is incomparable. We are all there for each other. Being Dominican means everything.”
Solomon, Sr. Charles Anne, O.P. (Grace Marie Solomon)
Sister Charles Anne was born in Newark, New Jersey and lived with her parents, three brothers and two sisters. In Newark, Sister Charles Anne attended Our Lady of Good Counsel. The family moved to Orange, Texas, in 1950 when her father was transferred from the Kearney Shipyard to the one in Texas. Sister Charles Anne attended St. Mary Catholic High School in Orange, Texas. “This was truly a culture shock for me. I had never been to the south and life was very different. I was shocked when I saw signs on drinking fountains and restrooms that said White Only/Black Only. I am glad that I have lived to see all of this change.”
Sister Charles Anne entered the convent in September, 1962. She had a cousin who was a Maryknoll priest and her dream was always to become a sister and work with him in Peru. Sister Charles Anne was also inspired by her third grade teacher, Sister Alma Delores, SSJ. “She encouraged me to always pray and listen for the voice of God.”
Sister Charles Anne’s first teaching assignment was at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston, Texas, in 1955. The next year she went to St. Charles Catholic School in Nederland, Texas for a few years. In 1958 she went to St. Augustine School in Houston, Texas, for the next five years. In 1963 she became Principal at Holy Rosary Academy in San Bernardino, California, until 1968. In 1968 she became the Diocesan Supervisor in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas Catholic Schools Office. After six years in Beaumont she came back to Houston and worked as a member of the General Council of the Dominican Sisters of Houston. In 1982 Sister Charles Anne went to Dominican Elementary in Galveston, teaching elementary religion and doing curriculum development. In 1985 Sister Charles Anne became the Associate Superintendent Catholic Schools Office for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. After serving in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese for seven years she moved to the Diocese of Brownsville serving in the same capacity, Associate Superintendent Catholic Schools Office. “My experience working in the Diocese of Brownsville was one of the most memorable for me. It gave me the opportunity to work with the Hispanic/Mexican people. The Diocese is among the poorest in the United States and it was both a challenge and a privilege to work with the principals, teachers, parents and students. I fell in love with the culture and the people there.”
In 2009 Sister Charles Anne came back to the Catholic Schools Office in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as one of the Associate Superintendents. She continues to work in this capacity today working with the fifty elementary schools and ten high schools in the Archdiocese. “My ministry in education has been most rewarding and it is a privilege to assist the many dedicated principals and teachers who are committed to providing the best Catholic Education possible in educating ‘the Mind, Heart and Spirit’ of all who attend our schools.”
Sister Charles Anne currently resides at St. Joseph Convent. She spends her free time reading and listening to music. “I like to work outside and spend many hours in one of the rose gardens at our Motherhouse. Whenever I can I enjoy visiting the Museum of Natural Science. Above all I enjoy keeping up with brother, sister and numerous nieces and nephews.”
Sparkman, Sr. Clarice, O.P. (Sr. M. Clarice Sparkman, O.P.) +
10/05/1917 – 01/10/2016
Sister Clarice was born in St. Augustine, Florida. Her family moved to Houston when she was in the second grade and she and her siblings attended Travis Elementary School. She went on to graduate from Reagan High School.
“In my senior year I decided to become a nun. I had been acquainted with the Sisters at Christ the King Catholic Church where my family attended and came to know them. In 1934 I entered the convent.”
Sister Clarice taught for 40 years. During this time she taught at St. Mary’s and St. Agnes in Houston. “I have taught all grades from first grade through high school. My favorite was high school because they were older and more mature and you could reason with them.” That reasoning skill was important, because what Sister Clarice loved to teach them was math, complicated math. “Mathematics is life fulfilling. You have it and use it all of your life. You are always learning.”
Sister Clarice has a real passion for mathematics. For ten years Sister Clarice worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Texas in Austin. During that time she earned a PhD in Mathematics. “It meant a lot to me to be working in the field of mathematics. It came alive for me and I really enjoyed teaching complicated math to the students in the program.”
Dominican life has been good to Sister Clarice. “It has been a very wholesome life.”
Sister Clarice currently resides at the Spring Branch Transitional Care Center, where she still gets fired up about mathematics. She continues to look for mathematical challenges in her everyday routine and continues to read and educate herself on the topic.
Steglich, Sr. Sharon, O.P.
Sister Sharon grew up in Port Arthur, Texas. She lived with her parents Flossie and Gilbert Steglich and her sister Elaine. She was taught by Dominican Sisters at St. Mary’s Catholic School and Bishop Bryne High School in Port Arthur, Texas. “I loved the sisters. Sister Mary Edna taught choir. She was so full of life, so happy. She inspired me.”
Sister Sharon entered the convent in 1959 and earned her Bachelors in Education from Dominican College. Sister Sharon’s first teaching assignment was at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Houston, Texas. She was there for five years and then moved to Beaumont where she taught at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School for three years.
Sister Sharon taught at St. Mary’s in Port Arthur for the next thirteen years. “It was wonderful to be in Port Arthur close to family”. In 1971 St. Mary’s served as a demonstration school and Sister Sharon was the Primary Coordinator of the Individualized Instruction Program. The program was recognized by the Texas Education Agency and primary teachers came from all over to observe and learn how to implement the program in their own classrooms.
In the 1980’s Sister Sharon went to Orange, Texas. She taught 27 years at St. Mary’s Catholic School. “I was in Orange for so long that it was like teaching family. You knew everyone in the community. It was wonderful.”
Sister Sharon has taught first grade for 51 inspired years. “I had a difficult time learning as a child, especially with reading. As a teacher I taught phonics and was really successful at it. You learn so much in the first grade and I wanted to help the children learn to read. I had patience with the children because I had the same struggles growing up.”
After her time in Orange, Texas, Sister Sharon moved back to Houston and began teaching at Queen of Peace Catholic School. She is currently working part time teaching religion for the first through fifth grade students. “I love teaching the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.”
Sister Sharon enjoys being a Dominican Sister. “The sisters bring out something in you. If I had not entered I would not have had the opportunity to learn and study. I never would have thought I could succeed.” For her it has been about the charism of study and making the best of herself. “Being a Dominican Sister has made me a happier person.”
Sister Sharon continues to teach religion at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Houston. In her free time she enjoys working in the garden, walking and watching football. Sister Sharon continues to be dedicated to her former students, many of whom went on to graduate from Texas A & M, cheering on those Aggies during football season!
Ulm, Sr. Carita, O.P. (Rose Marie Ulm)
Sister Carita Ulm was the second youngest of eleven children born to Elsie Hildegarde Conzelmann and Louis Peter Ulm. The family lived in Orange, Texas where she attended St. Mary’s Catholic School all the way through the twelfth grade. The three youngest children entered into religious life. One of her brothers became a diocesan priest and one of her sisters also became a Dominican sister.
She describes her childhood as very spiritual, normal and happy experience. She and her family went to daily Mass. “My parents were wonderful examples of what it meant to be Catholic and they lived their faith by example more than by their words.” Her mother would tell her, “If you have a penny in your pocket, give it to someone and God will reward you.” Her parents lived lives of great generosity and love, always helping the children to live the same way.
The Dominican sisters who taught her at St. Mary Catholic School were a great influence on her as well. Sister Carita knew she wanted to be a nun since she was in the second grade. “They built on what my parents taught me.” In 1954, after graduating high school, she came to Houston and entered the convent and attended the Dominican College receiving her degree.
Sister Carita taught children for 50 years before retiring. “The children taught me more about God than anyone else besides my parents. Their faith is so sincere and simple. You experience God through teaching.” Her first year teaching she was assigned to teach a split class which she remembers as a bit of a challenge. After that she moved to different schools teaching mainly language arts. She taught every grade, kindergarten through eighth grade, with the exception of sixth grade.
St. Mary’s Catholic School in Taylor, Texas, was one of the most memorable places she taught. During her time there she also served as principal. “St. Mary’s was a place where you could feel God’s presence and see the goodness of God.” She attributes her spiritual growth to the faith, kindness and good examples of those around her. It challenged her to be a better person. “The Dominican charism was very evident in the parish and school. There was so much love, you could feel the love and the peace.” St. Mary’s grade school has been in existence for 128 years and has had a Dominican sister working in the school since the beginning.
When asked about her years as a Dominican Sister she said that the community just reaffirms what her parents taught her. A highlight of her life since her retirement has been having more time to pray, study and participate in community activities, helping out wherever she can. Growing closer to God is her deepest desire. She feels God has given her the gift of creativity and art and she has been able to use these gifts well over these many years.
Currently Sister Carita lives at the Villa. She assists with answering the phone and directing visitors. She spends time praying and getting involved in community activities. She also enjoys helping decorate the Villa for the different holidays and events they have. It brings her much joy to serve God and others in anyway that she can. “My life has been full of many blessings and much love.”
van Giessen, Sr. Pamela, O.P. (Pamela Cornelia Petronella van Giessen)
Sister Pamela was born in Bloemendaal, The Netherlands. The oldest of six she remembers riding horses in the beautiful forests of Fontainebleau, France. “I remember the sun shining through the trees, golden dapples on the leaves, the smells and sounds of the forest around me. Ever since, a forest for me, is a manifestation and representation of a cathedral of God.”
In 1991 she entered the convent. “I was attracted to the Houston Dominicans because of their strong commitment to women and children’s rights and issues. I was also attracted to them because they are seekers of truth and preachers of truth. From the beginning it was stressed that listening to your own conscience was as important than following the rules. This does not in any way discount obedience owed to the proper and legal and church authority, but it does stress the importance of the value and necessity of thinking for yourself and not just heedlessly and thoughtlessly following the rules.”
In 1993 Sister Pamela served St. Anne Parish visiting the homebound parishioners. In 1994 she was a chaplain at the Houston Seafarers Center in Port of Houston. She would visit seafarers on board ships and provide spiritual and social care. “One of my most memorable ministries was the Seafarers ministry. There was never a dull moment.” On any given day a chaplain might have to deal with a crisis situation or deal with a social injustice. “The seafarers were always welcoming to visiting chaplains and deeply grateful for any help a chaplain could provide.”
In 2001 Sister Pamela graduated from the University of St Thomas with a MA in Theology and went on to do Clinical Pastoral Education at Memorial Hermann Hospital of the Texas Medical Center. This ministry consisted of classes and training, followed by visits with patients and their families and working on-call during nights and weekends. One particular patient stands out for Sister Pamela. “When I finished praying with her everything was brighter. When I left I felt like I was walking on air. It was a wonderful experience of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I felt incredibly blessed.”
Sister Pamela spent 2004 serving as Hospice Chaplain at Solari Hospice in Houston providing spiritual care for dying patients and their families. In 2005 she became the Volunteer Coordinator at Santa Maria Hostel, Inc. in Houston recruiting individuals and groups to provide much needed services for women and children suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Sister Pamela continues to serve this community. She coordinates activities for the clients and has recently started a meditation/empowerment class with several of the groups at the hostel.
She enjoys her many hobbies including horseback riding, reading, painting, arts and crafts, puzzles, movies and watching the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans games.
Warden, Sr. Mary Therese, O.P. (Sister Maria Goretti Warden) +
Sister Mary Therese was born in Houston, Texas to Margaret McNally-Warden and William August Warden. The family lived in the Heights and she spent her school days attending All Saints Catholic School through the eighth grade. She recalls spending her summers walking to the library that was down the street.
Sister Mary Therese attended St. Agnes Academy. She graduated as class Valedictorian in May 1951 and entered the Sacred Heart Convent right after graduation.
Sister Therese’ first teaching assignment was at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic School in Beaumont, Texas. She was principal at Corpus Christi Catholic School for three years. Together with a few other sisters, Sister Therese opened St. Mary’s Catholic School in Whittier, California. She taught several different grades and loved to incorporate Spanish into the curriculum.
Sister Mary Therese attended Dominican College receiving a BA in English with a minor in Spanish. She has two Masters Degrees, one in Mathmatics from Texas Woman’s University and one in Theology from the Aquinas Institute.
Over the years Sister Mary Therese has travelled to Rome nine times accompanying Sister Blanch and the students of St. Agnes. “I really enjoyed travelling. France and Italy were my favorites. I had the opportunity to travel the Lands of Dominic to study St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. It was wonderful.” Besides France and Italy she has travelled to Switzerland and Germany.
Sister Mary Therese spends her retired days living at St. Dominic Villa and you can find her many days working at the reception desk greeting visitors. She enjoys visiting with the other Dominican Sisters who live at the Villa, reading and crosswords.
White, Sr. Barbara, O.P. (Sister M. Martha White, O.P.) +
Sister Barbara White was born at Herman Hospital here in Houston, Texas. She was one of seven children born to Ernest Walter White and Martha Mary Baranski White. Sister Barbara attended Christ the King grade school and went on to graduate from St. Agnes Academy in 1953. Growing up she had entertained the idea of being a dress designer. She really enjoyed creating with fabrics and began taking classes at Sacred Heart Dominican College. In the fall of 1953 she decided she wanted to do something more meaningful than fashion design and entered the convent where her older sister Theresa was.
Sister Barbara made her First Profession and began teaching at St. Mary Catholic School in Port Arthur. She was there four years before going to St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Port Neches. She then moved to Riverside, California and taught alongside companion Dominican Sisters for five years at Francis de Sales Catholic School. Sister Barbara helped open St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School, teaching arts and language. Here she also served as assistant principal.
Sister Barbara attended the University of St. Thomas and earned a Masters in Religious Education in 1974. During this time she was teaching religion at St. Thomas More. She held the Director of Religious Education position at All Saints Catholic Church from 1972-1976. She enjoyed her work in the parishes as the Director of Religious Education. “I felt like I was able to be more creative and use my talents.” Sister Barbara was Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart Church in Conroe, St. Luke the Evangelist and Epiphany of the Lord during the years of 1976-1994.
In 1994 Sister Barbara took a sabbatical and attended Gonzaga University receiving certification in Spirituality. Upon returning she became the Pastoral Assistant at Sacred Heart in Conroe doing adult formation, RCIA, and direct work with the pastor. During this time her brother became ill and in 2000 died of bone cancer. She spent much of her time visiting him and other patients during his hospital stay. She enjoyed being in the hospital setting and providing comfort to sick patients. In 2002 she took Clinical Pastoral Education at MD Anderson and began to work as the Staff Chaplain at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont. She really enjoyed being a chaplain, serving at St. Elizabeth for eight years. “Being a hospital chaplain was most rewarding but I couldn’t have done it without the religious education, “ said Sister Barbara.
Sister Barbara is very happy with her decision to become a Dominican Sister. “I thank my wonderful parents for the inspirational example given to me through the years before their deaths. They were always very supportive with my decisions and aspirations.”
Currently Sister Barbara is living at Mageveney Convent. She volunteers her time with patients at St. Dominic Village nursing home, as well as helping other Sisters at the Villa and assisting with the Dominican Sisters archives.
“I can see God’s graces and blessings. Because of the different educational experiences over these years I have a better appreciation of Dominican history, of what He has given and what we can give to others. These are gifts we are given through religious education.”
White, Sr. Mary Pat, O.P. (Sr. M. Simeon, O.P.) +
03/01/1931 – 04/01/2019
Sister Mary Pat was born in Houston, Texas. Her parents, Anna Marie Durham White and Harris White, and two brothers lived in Houston for her entire childhood. Sister Mary Pat attended St. Agnes Academy graduating in 1949.
In 1950 Sister Mary Pat entered the convent and started teaching in 1952. Sister Mary Pat taught at St. Anthony Cathedral Catholic and Monsignor Kelly Catholic High Schools in Beaumont, Texas, St. Charles Catholic School in Nederland, Texas and at St. Agnes Academy and St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas.
Sister Mary Pat has fond stories from her 51 years of teaching. She particularly enjoyed teaching Drivers Education at St. Agnes Academy. She did this for 33 years.
Sister Mary Pat retired from teaching in 2003 and currently resides at the Spring Branch Transitional Care Center.
Zawacki, Sr. Stephen Anne, O.P. (Rosalie Zawacki )
Sister Stephen Anne was born in Houston, Texas to Helen and Steve Zawacki. Sister Stephen Anne is the youngest of three and attended All Saints Catholic School and St. Agnes Academy. She entered Sacred Heart Convent after graduating from St. Agnes Academy in 1959. Sister Stephen Anne remembers the sisters who taught her in school. “I had been with Dominican sisters in school my whole life. It is ultimately God who inspires you to religious life, but the sisters definitely had something to do with it. They were happy in what they were doing and I wanted that.” She remembers fondly Sister Mary Joseph Roach who taught her in the eighth grade and then served as her principal at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School when Sister Stephen Anne began teaching.
Sister Stephen Anne’s first teaching assignment was at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School in Houston, Texas where she taught first grade. She enjoyed teaching the young children and for fourteen years Sister Stephen Anne taught first grade at five other schools including St. Augustine Catholic School in Houston, Texas, Sacred Heart Catholic School in Galveston, Texas, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California, St. Christopher Catholic School in Houston, Texas and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Houston, Texas. During these years of teaching Sister Stephen Anne attended and graduated from Dominican College with a Bachelor’s in English.
In 1975 Sister Stephen Anne was asked to be principal at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Riverside, California and served the community there for six years. In 1981 she became the Dean of Students at St. Agnes Academy. During her eight years as Dean of Students she studied toward a Master’s in Administration from the University of San Francisco, finishing the degree in 1987.
In 1989 she became principal at St. Anne Catholic School in Houston, Texas where she served that community for four years. In 1994 she spent a year teaching third grade at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Houston, Texas and then moved to Austin where she became Assistant Superintendent of Schools in the Austin Diocese. “I would visit all of the schools and really loved it.” After two years as Assistant Superintendent she served as principal and teacher at Dominican Academy in Austin, Texas and then in 2001 she spent a year teaching at Galveston Catholic School in Galveston, Texas. In 2002 Sister Stephen Anne went to teach in Texas City, Texas. “I made it full circle going back to teaching first grade again.” For the next eleven years she taught the first graders at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Texas City, Texas.
During her years teaching, Sister Stephen Anne attended Loyola University in Los Angeles, California, University of California in Riverside, California and University of Houston in Houston, Texas where she received additional certifications and instruction.
One of the ministries Sister Stephen Anne has really enjoyed over the years is the girls’ summer camp sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Houston. For over a decade she has worked alongside other Dominican Sisters, teaching the young girls who attend the camp about the outdoors. “I really enjoy being there with the sisters. We work together teaching the girls about fishing, archery, and doing arts and crafts.” For Sister Stephen Anne the camp brings forth one of the things she loves most about being a Dominican sister. “I love community life and the companionship of the other sisters.”
Sister Stephen Anne has lived in Galveston, Texas for the past thirteen years. Last year she worked at the Kiddie Kampus daycare taking care of the children there. “I really enjoyed it. I loved working with the babies in the nursery.” Sister Stephen Anne worked at the daycare until she took a full time position working as a receptionist for the fishing boat company, William’s Party Boat, scheduling fishing expeditions and answering fishing questions for the curious fisher people wanting to learn to fish. Sister Stephen Anne has been deep sea fishing since the 1980’s and she loves it. “I love being in Galveston where I am near the water. I would fish everyday if I could.” When she is not near the water she enjoys reading and yard work.