The Nashville Dominicans Come To Scotland

Sisters in a Strange Land

The Nashville Dominicans arrived in remote Elgin, Scotland in August 2013. They are experienced Sisters; all are in their thirties, and have been in the Order for at least a decade. Three are Americans; one is Polish.

The country to which they arrived has not been ‘Catholic’ for almost 500 years. In fact, today many observers argue that Scotland is a decidedly ‘post-Christian’ country. Scottish churches, once Catholic, are routinely made over into discotheques and community centers.

The Faith is dead, it would seem. Nevertheless, undaunted, the Sisters soldier on — as Sister Anna Christi, a Texas native, explains in this exclusive Regina Magazine interview.

Elgin church

Q. What have been your general impressions of Scotland and her people?

Scotland itself is a breathtakingly beautiful country, affording many opportunities to praise the Lord in his work of creation. Her people are welcoming and friendly.

There is here, as in many countries in the West, a low percentage of people practicing their Faith which is a cause for concern. However, the Good Shepherd continues to call his people to himself, each one by name, and it is a privilege to be a part of his work here in this country.

Dominican sisters1

Q. What other daughter establishments have the Nashville Dominicans set up?

Our Motherhouse, St. Cecilia Convent in Nashville, was established in 1860 and within a few years of our founding began to establish “mission” houses consisting usually of 4-8 sisters in various states in the US. The sisters live in a convent together and serve in one or two schools in the area.

We went to Sydney, Australia as our first foreign mission in 2007-2008, followed by a new mission in Vancouver, Canada in 2010. Elgin, Scotland is our first European mission.

Dominican sisters

Q. Why did the Bishop invite you?

Bishop Hugh Gilbert of the Diocese of Aberdeen wanted to re-establish religious life in the historic Greyfriars Convent and provide religious sisters to work in faith formation opportunities in the diocese, especially among young people.

Dominican sin search of Scalan

Q. What has the response been from the Scots? Do you mostly have contact with Catholics? Or do you see Protestants as well?
The Scottish people are very friendly and welcoming and have been enthusiastic and supportive of the work we are doing. Most of our contact is with Catholics, but ministers from the other denominations in the area have also welcomed us, attending Bible studies and events we have run, inviting us to speak in their churches and to their youth, and even welcoming us into their homes.

Dominican Sisters 2 Bonnie Prince Jesus

Q. Are you teaching locally? How is that going?
The head teachers of the three local Catholic primary schools have welcomed our offer to provide catechetical opportunities for their students, which we do once a week. Each week we also welcome into the convent, where we have special rooms set up for catechesis, the students and their teachers at the Catholic school next door. All of this is on a volunteer basis.

We also speak to youth groups, young adult groups, university groups, and adult parish groups in various settings like retreats, days of recollection, and catechetical sessions, keeping our work quite varied!

We have enjoyed establishing friendships with the people we serve and watching them establish or deepen their friendship with Jesus and their commitment to the Church.

Q. How can interested people contact you?
A. We’re available via email at


1 thought on “The Nashville Dominicans Come To Scotland”

  1. God works in AMAZING and very mysterious ways!

    I knew one of these Sisters back in the late 1990’s when I was going from church to church as I searched for the church that Christ founded. (That is what kept me so unsettled as I tried this and that denomination…)

    I was fresh out of the US Navy and terribly disabled with injuries and spent a lot of time at home pretty much immobilized by pain. So I would spend a lot of time on Christian chat rooms on the Internet. One of these chatrooms was called #Catholic and I would go there and ask all manner of challenging hard questions put to me by non-Catholics that were trying to warn me to stay away from the Catholic Church.

    But it was Christian history that was slowly turning my inner compass towards the Catholic Church… yet how could I square these various pagan-ish customs and beliefs put out by Rome?? Well, this Sister, then a young lady, met me head on with kindness and love and a fantastic understanding of the Catholic Faith. She spent a lot of time answering my questions and over the course of about a year and a half I became a Catholic!

    Almost 2 years since we first “met” on line and spent so many hours discussing the Faith, me and this Sister unwittingly met up at a vocation retreat with the Nashville Dominicans. We were both delightfully surprised to find each other there and to meet in real life! She soon became a Nashville Dominican Sister and I went off to find my own path in the world, moving to Alaska and then later, moving here to Orkney after becoming engaged to my now-husband, a local Orcadian man and farmer.

    This farmer-man of mine just joined the Church in December of 2014 !! And we are now a Catholic family of 5 living here on these islands, in this country that has been so devoid of the Faith for this 500+ years, a country that is truly mission land! And it all started with a young lady still in home-school who had the knowledge and the courage to meet anti-Catholic nonsense head on with true Christian charity. This lovely Sister has helped to bring at *least* 5 souls into Holy Mother Church! Moral of this story? We should never feel that our simple humble witness of the Faith is “nothing” as we compare ourselves with great missionaries and preachers. Because sometimes our seemingly small witness, our simple answering of questions with patience and Christian charity, can have a profound ripple effect! If God can use a little high school age homeschooling girl through the Internet to bring about 5 new Catholics in a distant land, He can certainly use YOU wherever you are in your own life!!! Have faith and be bold! (I am so glad that Sister has been able to see the results of her little evangelization from 16 years ago. We might not always have such a gift, but even still, this just proves that great things can happen for the glory of God even after we have gone our own way!)

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