Sr. Cecilia Murray, OP, a Dominican Sister of Hope and adjunct professor of Religious Studies at Mount Saint Mary College, recently discussed her experiences chronicling the history of the Dominican Order in her talk, "The Dominican Contemplative Life, Ever Ancient, Ever New."
The presentation was held in coordination with the Mount's Catholic and Dominican Institute and the McGreal Center for Historical Dominican Studies.
Sr. Murray discussed her essay "The Dominican Contemplative Life, Ever Ancient, Ever New," which is part of the book Preaching with Their Lives: Dominicans on Mission in the United States after 1850. The book, celebrating 170 years of Dominican heritage and history, was recently published by Fordham University Press.
The 13th century saint Dominic de Guzman founded the Order of Preachers more than 800 years ago, a legacy that current day Dominican Sisters continue to preach and honor. Sr. Murray's essay follows the separate journeys of a young American woman and a French Dominican priest, each leading to a foundation in the diocese – now archdiocese – of Newark, N.J.
Starting in the late 1980s, Sr. Murray began writing about the history of the Dominican Order in six regions, from 1865 to 1910. However, the format changed to a book of essays that would cover the Dominican history from 1865 to the present.
To accomplish this, she visited various Dominican monasteries throughout the United States. Some of these monasteries have since been closed, adding greater importance to her writings.
Preaching with Their Lives: Dominicans on Mission in the United States after 1850 examines the unique legacy of the Order of Preachers in the United States. The book was edited by Margaret McGuinness and Jeffrey Burns, with special thanks to the first director of the McGreal Center, Sr. Janet Welsh, OP.
Sr. Murray, the author of Other Waters: A History of the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, New York, earned a Bachelor of Music from Manhattanville College, a master's in music from Catholic University, a master's in religious studies from Manhattanville and Princeton Theological, and a PhD in American religious studies from Drew University. Sr. Murray entered the Dominican Order of Preachers at Newburgh, N.Y. in 1962 and taught elementary, then secondary music and religion, before beginning research work in Dominican history in 1980. Sr. Murray came to Mount Saint Mary College in 1998.
The Mount's Catholic and Dominican Institute promotes the Mount's heritage of St. Dominic, advances the Dominican charism of study and service, provides a forum for discussion of contemporary ethical issues, and enhances Catholic and Jewish dialogue. The Institute welcomes persons of varied faiths and acknowledges different religious traditions as essential to the college's intellectual and spiritual life.