During their General Chapter, The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia elected Mother Anna Grace Neenan, O.P. as the Prioress General of the congregation to lead the religious community from 2018 through 2024.
After first coming to Nashville to enroll as a student at Aquinas College, Mother Anna Grace entered the community in 1996 and professed her perpetual profession of vows on August 8, 2003. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Aquinas College, an M.A. in Educational Administration from Christian Brothers University, and is currently working towards 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’s School in Greenville, SC. Mother 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, 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, MA. One of five children, Mother grew up in Weymouth, MA, where she attended public elementary and high school and was a member of Sacred Heart Parish. Mother Anna Grace’s 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 ten 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.
About her election as Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters, Mother Anna Grace says, “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.”
In addition to Mother Anna Grace’s election as Prioress General, six other sisters were elected to serve as the congregation’s general officials, including Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, O.P., Vicaress General; Sister Marian Sartain, O.P., Second Councilor; Sister Ann Hyacinth Genow, O.P., Third Councilor; and Sister Catherine Marie Hopkins, O.P., Fourth Councilor. Sister Lucia Marie Siemering, O.P., was elected Secretary General and Sister Mary Thomas Huffman, O.P. as Bursar General.
In 1860, the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia was established in Nashville, where its Motherhouse is located. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are dedicated to the apostolate of Catholic education. The community of almost 300 sisters serves in 41 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.
Members of the General Council (from left to right): Sister Catherine Marie Hopkins, O.P.; Sister Marian Sartain, O.P.; Mother Anna Grace, O.P.; Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, O.P. and Sister Ann Hyacinth Genow, O.P.