CALDWELL – Mount Saint Dominic Academy (MSDA), an all-girls Catholic college preparatory school couched within the Caldwell University campus, capped its year-long 125th anniversary celebration with a visit from Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
The visit recognized a year of celebration at the school, while also celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany through a special mass led by Tobin.
“Epiphany is Greek for revelation; the unveiling of something, the presentation of a mystery,” said Tobin. “And for 125 years, that is what Mount Saint Dominic Academy has been about, unveiling the gifts all the students are to your families, to the church, to the world, and to yourselves.”
According to Kathleen Ruane-Przyhocki, the communications coordinator at MSDA, the special mass was attended by 300 of the school’s students, all young women representing more than 50 towns across nine New Jersey counties.
The school’s teachers and staff, including the school’s board of trustees, attended the mass. Members of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, the sisterhood that originally helped found the school in the 1800’s, were also in attendance.
“To be Head of School while celebrating its 125th Anniversary is an awesome experience,” said MSDA Head of School Sister Fran Sullivan. “To experience our rich heritage, to stand on the shoulders of so many great women while knowing that Mount Saint Dominic Academy will continue on into the future, leaves one speechless and filled with gratitude.”
Sullivan said she felt honored to get to know an authentic spiritual leader like Tobin.
“The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the message of Jesus message moving out into the world, and for MSDA we pride ourselves with empowering young women to be leaders now and in the future and to move beyond our doors,” she said.
Rosie Grasso, MSDA senior and student body president, said she was grateful for the chance to meet Tobin. Grasso officially welcomed Tobin to the school at the event.
“It was undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience. He is a truly genuine person who clearly values everyone around him,” she said. “He also appreciates a good joke. I felt that his presence made our celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany and our 125th anniversary even more special. His words were inspiring, in terms of our faith, he reminded us to follow the star, rather than the quickly disappearing meteor that will leave us stumbling in the dark.”
Grasso said it was an honor to represent the school during its 125th anniversary.
Tobin met with students and staff after the mass at a reception, where some students were allowed to try on the gold ring given to Tobin by Pope Francis to signify his bond with the Papacy.
According to the Archdiocese of Newark website, Pope Francis named Tobin to the College of Cardinals in October of 2016. Tobin was created Cardinal in November of 2016, and was named the sixth Archbishop of Newark by the Pope that same month. He can speak English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese, and reads several other languages.
The year 2017 marked the 125th anniversary of MSDA’s founding, said Sullivan, when Sisters of Saint Dominic prioress Mother Mary Catharine Muth helped carry the very bricks that formed the cornerstone of the school in 1892.
“The Dominican Sisters did carry bricks up the hill from the railroad station at the bottom of the hill in the 1880’s to build the Motherhouse that housed the Sisters of Saint Dominic as well as the school,” said Sullivan.
The year-long celebration included a school-wide art gallery showcasing art made by MSDA graduates, a fall formal gala featuring dinner and dancing, and several presentations on the history of the school.