Mother Catharine Society
87Mother Catharine Muth was a visionary. As prioress of the Sisters of Saint Dominic in Jersey City, she took the extraordinary steps to purchase hilltop property in Caldwell and in 1891 begin construction of an educational institution, Mount Saint Dominic Academy (read more of Mother Catharine’s story below).
You can become a permanent member of the Mother Catharine Society by making a planned gift to the Mount, such as naming the Mount as a beneficiary in your will or life insurance policy or by establishing a life income trust, gift annuity or other special deferred gift plan. These gifts bolster the financial strength of Mount St. Dominic Academy so that our mission of educational excellence and empowering young women endures for generations to come. You will receive a special certificate acknowledging your membership, and your name will be listed here and in our annual report each year. Want to know more about planned giving? Click here to visit our planned giving page.
Mrs. Mary Tyms Bryan ’55
Doris M. Byrne ’40+
Alfreida Casartelli +
William E. Corcoran
Lois DelNegro ’62
George and Joanne Donahue Hayes ’69
Milton Herman +
Joan Forest Horne ’53
S. Jack McDuff
Mary Jane Walmsley Postal ’63
Catherine Sullivan ’63
Odette Veneziano ’73
Mary Priscilla Brown Weiss ’72
If you have already included the Mount in your estate planning, please contact the Development Office (email@example.com or 973 226.0660 ext. 1130) so that we can include you in this society. If you prefer, your membership can remain anonymous.
Mother Catharine’s Story
A petite woman with great vision, Mother Catharine Muth is the foundress, not only of Mount St. Dominic Academy, but also of the entire Caldwell Dominican community and we are indebted to her for all that we are.
It began in 1872, when then-Sister Catharine served as the initially-reluctant leader of a group of sisters who moved to Jersey City from their monastery in Brooklyn to help educate the children of German immigrants. There, in 1878, this group of sisters established St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, the first part of a much greater program to educate young women.
In 1881, the Jersey City sisters became their own Dominican foundation, or community, independent from their Brooklyn forbearers. With Mother Catharine as their prioress, the foundation was known as the Sisters of St. Dominic of Jersey City. Based out of a convent on the property of St. Boniface parish in Jersey City, the community under Mother Catharine’s leadership was devastated by the outbreaks of tuberculosis affecting the city in the 1880’s and many young sisters died from the disease.
Seeking a refuge for the ill sisters in her community, Mother Catharine made a day-long, drive by horse and buggy to a place 20 miles west of Jersey City which, because of its hilltop location, was dubbed “the Denver of the East.” That place was Caldwell and there, Mother Catharine found her place of refuge.
Taking the bold step to purchase the Harrison Estate on Roseland Avenue, Mother Catharine envisioned Caldwell as the location for a new and much larger convent than her community’s Jersey City home. The move to Caldwell also offered the chance to spread the community’s educational mission into Essex County and beyond. Eventually, Mother Catharine purchased property at the top of the hill and in 1891 began construction of the motherhouse, which remains today.
Similar in design to the original motherhouse of the Dominican sisters in Ratisbon, Germany, funds for the new building were so limited that all of the bricks used in its construction were hand carried by the sisters up the hill from the railroad station below. In 1892, Mother Catharine’s dream was further realized when Mount St. Dominic Academy was established on the hilltop.
The Mount only is what it is today because of Mother Catharine. Just as her dreams were made manifest thanks to her foresight, courage and faith, our dreams for the Mount today depend on the foresight, courage and faith of friends like you.