Capital campaign begins for Dominican Sisters convent
FORT WORTH — The Advancement Foundation has started a capital campaign to raise $2.5 million to build a new convent for the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate on the grounds of Nolan Catholic High School in east Fort Worth.
Ground has been broken and construction has begun on the new home for the sisters, scheduled to open for the 2022-23 school year.
It’s an undertaking that Bishop Michael Olson has identified as important in improving the lives of the 10 sisters who help educate the Catholic youth of the diocese. Currently, the sisters live in an older facility on the high school campus, and the new convent would help attract more sisters to come to work in the diocese.
Clint Weber, president and CEO of the Advancement Foundation of the Diocese of Fort Worth, said the convent in which the sisters live is old and was in need of renovation.
“The facility that's currently there, I believe we built it in the ’60s — is pretty basic,” said Stephen Becht, director of real estate, construction, and property management for the diocese. “When you start looking at the renovation costs, that just doesn't make sense if you really wanted a new place for them in a place that would be suitable.”
Bishop Olson decided to design and construct a new convent of roughly 11,000 square feet including living quarters for 14 and a small chapel.
“[Bishop Olson] wanted to do something nice for them because they’re so important to the school system here,” Becht said.
“The new structure is designed in a horseshoe shape with a courtyard in the middle that can be adapted in the future to accommodate even more residents,” he added. “We have a design that the sisters really like and the bishop really likes.”
“It needs to be a true Dominican convent,” Weber added, of the building that is designed in a monastic style.
Renée Underwood, CFRE, chief development officer at the Advancement Foundation, said the campaign is very important for Catholic education.
“We’re really excited because this campaign has so many elements that matter to faithful Catholics. Those of us who were taught by nuns or sisters know that importance,” Underwood said. “It’s our opportunity to pay that back.”
She said that the supporters are “those who care that we have the sisters’ presence, not only at Nolan but other schools and parishes throughout the diocese where they’re working. Donors care that we can bring even more sisters to work here because they have truly been a blessing.”
The Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate have a provincial house in Houston of about 100 women. In 1975, the order, known informally as the Vietnamese Dominicans, established itself in the U.S. when seven sisters fled their war-torn homeland of Vietnam and eventually made their way to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Because of that Houston connection, Underwood believes supporters in that city join donors in the Diocese of Fort Worth to invest in the future of “these amazing women of God.”
Sister Ann Nguyen, OP, one of the 10 Dominican sisters in the Fort Worth diocese said that the order has 39 sisters teaching at 18 different universities, high schools, and elementary schools in several dioceses.
In the Fort Worth diocese, the sisters are at St. George Catholic School, St. Joseph, St. John the Apostle, St. Rita, Holy Family, St. Peter the Apostle, Nolan, and in parish ministries as directors of religious education at St. Jude Church in Mansfield.
“We pray for fidelity in carrying out our traditional charism, and we know we can’t do it if we don’t have the practical means,” Sr. Ann said. “In this manner, through the capital campaign to build a new convent, we can extend our apostolate with practical means to better serve the people of God, particularly in the Fort Worth Diocese.”
Sr. Ann said that “As we are continuing our services in the Fort Worth Diocese, we pray that in and through our ministry, we will grow in holiness sharing the joy and peace of the Risen Christ, His first gift to His Apostles.”
For more information about the campaign, or to contribute, contact the Advancement Foundation, 201 Main St., Ste. 1198, in Fort Worth, 817-533-3170 or at AdvancementFoundation.org.