Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia elect prioress general, councilors

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation have elected Mother Anna Grace Neenan, OP, to lead the religious community for the next six years as the prioress general.

Mother Anna Grace Neenan, OP

In addition to the election of Mother Anna Grace, the Dominican Sisters elected to serve on the community’s General Council Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, OP, as vicaress general; Sister Marian Sartain, OP, as second councilor; Sister Ann Hyacinth Genow, OP, as third councilor; and Sister Catherine Marie Hopkins, OP, as fourth councilor. Sister Lucia Marie Siemering, OP, was elected secretary general, and Sister Mary Thomas Huffman, OP, was elected bursar general.

The Dominican Sisters said that on behalf of Mother Anna Grace, the sisters express their gratitude to God and ask that everyone join them in prayer as the new prioress general and new General Council members begin their terms of office.

In 1860, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation was established in Nashville, where its motherhouse is located. The religious community is dedicated to the apostolate of Catholic education. The community of almost 300 sisters serves in 50 schools throughout the United States, with mission houses also in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; Rome and Bracciano, Italy; Elgin, Scotland; Sittard, The Netherlands; and Limerick, Ireland.

In addition to Nashville, Dominican sisters currently are serving at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Knoxville Catholic High School, and St. Mary School in Oak Ridge.

“I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to enter more deeply into our rich heritage rooted in St. Dominic and St. Cecilia, and my hope is to continue the good work already begun in our community,” Mother Anna Grace said.

After first coming to Nashville to enroll as a student at Aquinas College, Mother Anna Grace entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecila in 1996 and professed her perpetual profession of vows on Aug. 8, 2003.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Aquinas College, a master’s degree in educational administration from Christian Brothers University, and is currently working toward a master’s degree in theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

She has served the religious community of Dominican Sisters as a teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Denver and St. Henry School in Nashville, as well as a principal at St. Mary School in Greenville, S.C. She also spent a year in Rome studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), and in Nashville has served as a member of the Aquinas College board of directors.

For the last six years, Mother Anna Grace has been the director of novices for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, responsible for leading the formation of the sisters in their first four years of religious life.

Mother Anna Grace is the daughter of Corinne and William Neenan, of Middleboro, Mass. One of five children, she grew up in Weymouth, Mass., where she attended public elementary and high school and was a member of Sacred Heart Parish.

Her sister, Sister Mary Angelica, is also a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, and it was through her that Mother Anna Grace first learned about the community.

Prior to entering religious life, Mother Anna Grace was a professional ballet dancer for 10 years. To be a ballerina was her childhood dream, but she discerned a longing for something more and began to hear God’s quiet call to religious life that led her to Nashville, according to the St. Cecilia Congregation.

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