The Dominican Sisters in Louisiana, North America

In 1860, the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Cabra made its first foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. Eventually this mission became St. Mary’s Congregation.

The Dominican Sisters of Cabra  have had a new presence in North America, principally in Louisiana since 1968. Their ministries included education in Parochial schools in New Orleans, (St. Leo), Harvey (St. Rosalie) and Independence (Mater Dolorosa), St. Mary’s Academy and St. Rita (both New Orleans) as well as adult education in Hope House, New Orleans. The sisters were also involved in pastoral and catechetical work in the above parishes and in San Pedro Pescador in Meraux, Louisiana, Religious Education for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux, community organising in New Orleans and Fort Worth, Texas and the marriage tribunal in Fort Worth, justice and justice education, advocacy, and prison ministry.

Since 2021, there remains one Sister in New Orleans, ministering in Hope House.

Hope House

Sister Lilianne Flavin, OP works at Hope House in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hope House is a non-profit organisation, founded in 1969 by two Roman Catholic nuns who moved into the St Thomas Housing Development. Its mission is to respond to the hopes and needs of its neighbours and to help create a society in which truth and justice abide.

Hope House’s emergency assistance program provides emergency food, rent and utility support to households in crisis. It also provides advice and referrals to other agencies. Through its adult learning centre, Hope House provides basic adult education and prepares students for the state’s alternative high school diploma. Career Development assists neighbours and students in the adult learning centre to enrol in college and other post-secondary training programs. It also helps them find employment. The after-school youth recreation program provides a safe place for children and teens to play.

Sr. Lilianne visits with women in the Orleans Parish jail, as well as a man on Angola State Penitentiary’s Death Row. As part of the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, Hope House researches and promotes alternatives to incarceration, including pre-trial services, a day reporting centre, greater use of the summons in lieu of arrest, more efficient court procedures to lessen the length of pre-trial incarceration, and the decriminalisation of a variety of minor, non-violent offenses. The city has begun to experiment with some of these approaches.

Hope House’s Common Grounds Coffee House welcomes homeless people for coffee and pastry three mornings each week. Guests are also welcome to use its six computers and borrow books from its free library. A nearby Catholic Worker community prepares evening meals each week and serves them at the Hope House coffee house. Hope House also maintains two transitional apartments for homeless people.

Hope House also offers poverty and justice workshops to high school, college, church and civic groups.
As a staff, we are committed to living and working with the poor and “to live simply, that others may simply live.”

(See article from Sr Lillian Flavin OP on her work in Hope House)

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