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Gannon, Catherine [Mother Mary Pauline] (1864–1921)

Catherine (Mother Mary Pauline) Gannon, the second mother general of the Dominican Sisters of Texas, the first of two children of Bartholomew Gannon and the fifth of six children of Margaret Welsh (Eagan) Gannon, was born at Newark, New Jersey, on November 7, 1864. She was reared in a home of strong Catholic faith and was educated in the public schools and by the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, New Jersey, at St. Joseph School. Catherine taught at St. Joseph after completing her studies, participated in church functions, and attended the sick in the neighborhood. A Dominican priest, Rev. J. P. Devereaux, directed her to the newly arrived sisters in Texas at Galveston. On February 2, 1886, she received the habit of the order and two years later made her first profession of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

On the death of Mother Mary Agnes Magevney in 1891, Sister Pauline was appointed mother general of the small community. She was reluctant to accept the office because she was a novice, but under her leadership the order accomplished much. At the time there was only one convent and academy in Galveston, Sacred Heart, staffed by the sisters. Beginning in 1893, the sisters took over the cathedral school of Galveston, St. Anthony in Beaumont, St. Mary in Taylor, and Sacred Heart in Houston, all before 1900. As a result of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the Galveston school closed and St. Dominic Academy was opened in Lampasas. The chief apostolate of the Dominican Sisters was in the field of education. A total of fifteen schools, including six secondary institutions, came under the tutelage of the order. Most were in Texas, although one was in Riverside, California. Education of the sisters was a primary concern of the order. As the demand for more formal education grew, Mother Pauline engaged professors to lecture the sisters. Some were sent to Catholic colleges and others to art and music conservatories. Against opposition, Mother Pauline founded Newman Hall in Austin in 1918 as a residence for Catholic girls attending the University of Texas. Some of the sisters acquired teaching certificates from the teacher-training school of the university, and others graduated with degrees. The hall provided a dormitory for them, also. Sisters made trips to the East Coast and to Ireland to recruit potential candidates for the order. In 1891 there were thirty-one sisters in the community. In 1921 there were 115. Mother Pauline was elected eight times to head the order. She died on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1921, in Galveston, still the mother general.

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Sister M. Borromeo, O.P., Let Her Works Praise Her (1945). Dominican Sisters Archives, Houston. Sister M. Veronica, O.P.M.A, The Dominican Sisters in Texas: Golden Jubilee of Sacred Heart Convent, 1882–1932 (n.d.).


  • Education
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Sister M. Gerard Barry, O.P., “Gannon, Catherine [Mother Mary Pauline],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: