Dominican sisters bring presence of joy to campus

Sebastian Gonzalez
Staff Writer

This semester, three Dominicans from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, are studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Sister Catherine Paul Gignour, OP; Sister Maria Paula Fuentes, OP; and Sister Joseph Lucia Grieshop, OP, are living the lives of university students while still maintaining their community life back at the convent.

As Dominicans, the sisters are studying in order to fulfill their dedication to Catholic education, Fuentes said.

The Dominican sisters are excited to be on campus, and they especially enjoy seeing the spiritual life around them.

They especially appreciate the Catholic culture within their catechetics classes, Fuentes said.

She said seeing Catholics excited to discuss their faith within the current culture brings them joy, especially when the students are just being themselves while also focusing on being good Catholics.

“One thing that makes me smile … is hearing conversations as the students pass by,” Fuentes said. “They range from Vatican II to a holy hour to what they want for lunch that day.”

The sisters appreciate the beautiful and edifying atmosphere of campus, especially when they are greeted constantly by excited students eager to meet them, Fuentes said.

An essential aspect of the Dominican sisters’ life is going out and evangelizing and preaching the gospel. The sisters said that this charism is what brought them to join their convent in the first place.

Grieshop’s older sister entered the Dominican sisters first, which encouraged her into this vocation.

Fuentes said she was taught by the Dominican sisters in Austin, Texas, for middle school and high school where she was inspired to discover her future vocation.

Gignour met the Dominicans in high school, and that was where her vocation came: in learning about the faith. She said one of her motivations for joining the order was the beauty of giving “your whole life to God, especially through chastity.”

Mary and the Eucharist took it from there, she said.

The typical day in the three sisters’ school lives differs from average students because of their community life being tied to a convent, Gignour said.

“We’re kind of different from the Franciscan sisters who live in the dorm. We have a community life back at the convent,” she said.

Before 5 a.m., the sisters get up and prepare for a holy hour before praying morning prayer as part of the liturgy of the hours. Next, they attend 7 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church before going to the university to study and attend classes from 8 a.m. to evening.

Once back home, they prepare dinner and pray evening prayer and the rosary. After the rosary, recreational activities happen each evening after dinner with time to spend with the sisters.

Before bed, the sisters have a time of silence when they pray, work, and complete other essential tasks before the end of the day. This time of reflection is when the sisters practice their spiritual meditation of “practicing the presence of God,” Fuentes said.

“Think about the presence of God all of the time you are praying,” Gignour said.

The Dominican sisters can be found around campus, greeting students with smiles and exited to continue learning and growing as faithful Dominicans.