Four Dominican Sisters Stopped for Gas — and the Rest Is History

The Sisters' encounter with Tom Monaghan that day was manifestly providential. Today, twenty years after their founding on February 9, 1997, the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have grown from their small group of four Sisters to more than 130.

(photo: Register Files)

It was 1997, and four Dominican Sisters from Tennessee had driven to Chicago and were now heading east toward New York when they ran low on fuel. The Sisters were hoping to establish a new religious community – one that combined the Dominican monastic heritage with a commitment to the New Evangelization. Cardinal John J. O'Connor, archbishop of New York, had agreed to welcome the new Order to his archdiocese.

Mother Assumpta Long, O.P., co-foundress of the Order now known as the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, talked with the Register about her memories of that day:

“We had visited friends in Chicago, and we were on our way to New York when we stopped to get gas. Sister John Dominic picked up a newspaper from the gas station – and there was an article about Tom Monaghan. I knew Tom because I had spoken to Legatus meetings and at First Friday events at Domino's Farms. We were driving eastward on I-94, and the Domino's Farms headquarters wasn't far off our course; so I suggested we just stop and say hello. I knew that he might not be in, since he was busy leading the Domino's Pizza corporation.”

Mr. Monaghan was in, though, and the Sisters enjoyed a brief visit with the Catholic businessman in his office. In retrospect, the Sisters' encounter with Tom Monaghan that day seems not just a happy coincidence, but a significant step in God's great plan for the New Evangelization.

“We said hello,” said Mother Assumpta,

“...and then we were on our way to New York. But once we were settled in New York, Mr. Monaghan called me. Remember how he's often said he wants to go to heaven, and to take as many souls with him as he could? Well, he'd decided that the best way to accomplish that goal was to build schools. He wanted to build these schools, and then give them to us!”

Mother Assumpta told Cardinal O'Connor about the call, and the cardinal urged her to pray about it. Then the determined Tom Monaghan flew to New York to meet with the Sisters personally. “This had to be from God!” said  Mother Assumpta, “because we didn't ask for it, didn't even think about it. It just had to be God's will for us!”

It seemed to Mother Assumpta that one thing happened after another: Bishop Carl Mengeling, bishop of Lansing, invited the Sisters to make their home in the diocese. In time, she and her Sisters decided to accept Tom Monaghan's offer, to leave New York behind, and to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan and open independent Catholic schools, helping to prepare schoolchildren to spread the Gospel in the world.


Making Room for God's Abundant Blessings

“We're already out of room!” Mother Assumpta told the Register. The Sisters, who already teach at three schools in Texas, are now planning to build a new convent in Georgetown, Texas, capable of housing more than 100 women.

Twenty years later, the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have grown from their small group of four Sisters to more than 130. The Order, distinctive in their long white habits, holds a special attraction for young women (the average age of the Sisters is only 30). They have joyfully taken their message of faith to the modern world through education, television and music, to name a few of their outreaches.

Their Motherhouse remains in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but the Sisters teach in preschool through college all over the United States. They also serve as librarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The Sisters have released two international music albums to wide acclaim – even reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Classical Traditional Chart for several weeks. Their open spirit has unexpectedly attracted widespread international media coverage. Most recently the Sisters made headlines for reaching one million likes on their much beloved Facebook page.


Manual for Marian Devotion

One project which is dear to the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a Manual for Marian Devotion, intended to help Catholics understand the Church's veneration of Mary and foster it in their own devotional lives.

The Manual for Marian Devotion, released by TAN Books in 2016, comes in a handsome blue leather binding. It's meant to be a tool to nourish love of Mary with the Scriptures, stories of the saints, prayers, devotions and more. It’s divided into two parts. Part One lays the framework for understanding the Church’s veneration of Mary and includes a clear explanation of Marian doctrines as well as historical highlights in Marian devotion (the Rosary, Marian apparitions, and more). Part Two is a rich resource of devotional material to nourish private devotions to the Mother of God. There, the reader can find official Church teaching on Marian devotion, the Blessed Virgin Mary in Scripture, writings on Mary by saints and other spiritual writers. There's a section on Marian miracles and messages, a guide to popular Marian prayers, and Marian prayers found in the Church's Liturgy. There's even a chapter on Marian poetry dating from the medieval era to the modern age.

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