The Nashville Dominicans, officially known as the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, are a community experiencing a wonderful growth in vocations. Because of this, they are able to send sisters into “mission” territories. Their newest home is in Scotland, where four sisters were welcomed into the Diocese of Aberdeen in August. They will be living in a 15th century convent called Greyfriars.
The Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Edward Gilbert, OSB, remembering old American western movies, likens the coming of these American sisters to the US Calvary charging across the hill to save the day, only they are armed with rosaries not rifles.
Scotland was once Catholic territory. The Diocese of Aberdeen was established in the 11th century but in the 16th century, an Act of Parliament abolished papal authority and jurisdiction throughout Scotland. Eventually, the people came under Presbyterian governance. The Catholic diocese of Aberdeen was formally re-established in 1878. The Catholic population in 2006 was only 20,000 in a diocese of over 700,000 people, true missionary territory.
It seems that when the bishop was in Rome to attend a class for new bishops last year, he encountered Bishop Edward Rice of St. Louis who astonished him by saying: “‘Do you know, ever since I heard that convent (previously occupied in the Aberdeen diocese by the Sisters of Mercy) was empty I’ve been praying the Nashville Dominicans would fill it.” Bishop Rice added, “If you want to re-evangelize Scotland, they’re the people who’ll do it. I’ll write to the Prioress General, tell her she must accept your invitation, and I’ll pay the fare over for one of the sisters.”
To make a long story short, Bishop Rice kept his word and the sisters arrived ONE YEAR LATER!!
Bishop Gilbert says, “It means that Jacob’s ladder, with its busy angels, after lying on the ground gathering dust, is being set up again. Surely the angels are delighted. Surely the stones are glad. Surely those buried here are pleased!”
Read his inspiring homily in it’s entirety here. May this be a start of a great springtime of vocations for the Scottish people!