Mission & History
Veritas and Caritas | Truth and Knowledge
Veritas is truth. It is the pursuit of knowledge and a dedication to inquiry—a lifetime of seeking. Veritas is the root of the Four Dominican Pillars: study, mission, community and prayer. The Dominican sisters were founded with the charge to “preach the Word of God through our lives of contemplative prayer, study and ministry in response to the needs of our time.” Learn more about the Four Pillars.
Caritas is love. It is an understanding of ourselves and our fellow women and men. It is a call to service, a commitment to social justice and human rights—charity for the greater good. Caritas drives us to provide an atmosphere of faith, respect and belonging for our students, in turn inspiring in them a true desire for local and global outreach.
With veritas and caritas at our core, we encourage our students to question what they encounter in the world and to be the positive change they wish to see. We call on students to find their passions and put them into action. We prepare students to be global citizens.
For over 125 years, Mount St. Dominic Academy has been empowering young women. With veritas and caritas at our core, we encourage our students to question what they encounter in the world and to be the positive change they wish to see. We call on students to find their passions and put them into action. We prepare students to be global citizens.
Mount St. Dominic Academy, established by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell in 1892, is a Catholic, college preparatory school for young women. We are dedicated to the education of young women from a variety of ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds.
The Mount community is committed to seeking the Truth in all aspects of life. The students are able to realize their individual gifts and talents in an atmosphere that fosters academic excellence, respect for diversity, appreciation for the gifts of creation, moral integrity and a heritage rich in Christ-centered values.
Our Legacy: 127 Years of History
From a 19th-century Motherhouse to a 21st-century institution of learning—how did we become the Mount?
The Caldwell Dominicans became an independent congregation in 1881 and began a school in our current location in 1892. Yet we are part of a larger order founded by St. Dominic 800 years ago. Three are more than 27,000 Dominican religious in over 100 countries around the world. Our Order is a global community of preachers, educators and scholars.
The Mount St. Dominic Academy of today was founded in 1892 by the Sisters of St. Dominic with roots tracing to the Convent of the Holy Cross in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. In the 1880’s, Mother Mary Catharine Muth initiated a move from Jersey City, due to the spread of tuberculosis. She sought out Caldwell, a town that, at the time, offered a healthier lifestyle and was referred to as “the Denver of the East” because of its elevation.
In 1893, the cornerstone was laid for a new building for the order. When completed, the building served both as a regional Motherhouse, convent and school. The early building accommodated day students and boarders, grammar and high school students, girls and boys.
Architecturally, the building was designed to resemble the original Motherhouse in Regensburg, Germany. To reduce construction costs, the sisters carried the bricks by hand from the Caldwell railroad station at the bottom of the school’s hill.
Until 1903, the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell maintained a cloistered lifestyle combined with their teaching ministry—a tradition stemming back to their German origins. By the early years of the 20th century, however, this had become too difficult and some of the demands of cloistered life were eliminated. The sisters became Third Order Dominicans. This change gave the sisters the freedom to devote more time and energy to their duties in education.
In 1912, the Motherhouse and Novitiate officially moved from Jersey City to Caldwell. This increased the need for more space. In 1915 a three story school with a theater, auditorium and dormitory building, Mercedes Hall, was constructed across from the Motherhouse. About the same time, additional adjacent parcels of land were purchased for future expansion.
By the late 1920’s, enrollment had increased to the point that a second round of additional living and teaching space was needed. Mother Joseph Dunn, Mother General from 1927 through 1945, led the expansion effort. Mercedes Hall was demolished, replaced with a larger complex comprising Rosary and Aquinas Halls. Designed in the Gothic Revival style, the complex was dedicated in 1931. Today, it serves as our main academic and administrative facility.
In the 1950’s, Sister Germaine, the principal at the time, led campus renovations to keep up with the number of students. The school stopped taking boarders in 1958, using what was once residential space for additional classrooms, offices and a larger library.
In 1999, a dormitory bathroom was converted to expand the DeCoursey Library facilities. The science laboratories were renovated to state of the art biology, chemistry and physics labs. Angelica Hall was configured as a World Language Center in 2002. In the spring of 2008, the Mount St. Dominic Athletic Center was completed and houses the Mary Jo Codey Gymnasium.
In the years since there have been additional physical alterations and expansions to accommodate the changing needs of the school and student body. To address the explosion in women’s athletics and the much greater variety of sports played competitively by Mount students today, Sister Frances Sullivan, Head of School, spearheaded the construction of a new 19,000-square-foot Athletic Center, completed in 2008.
Stage II of this capital campaign was to renovate the former gym into a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center. The newest building is the Doris M. Byrne Performing Arts Center. Named for an alumna of the Mount, this 400+-seat theater occupies what used to be our gymnasium/auditorium, which was constructed in the late 1920’s. The new facility offers a Broadway quality experience for performers and patrons while maintaining the elegance of the time when it was originally built.
Both of these projects not only provided upgraded facilities to the Mount, but serve and are available to the greater West Essex community as well.