The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988 Page: 270
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Heart Convent of Houston, 1986. Pp. xiv+782. Foreword, intro-
duction, photographs, illustrations, notes, appendices, selected
bibliography, index. $24.)
On January 7 the Catholic church honors a Spanish scholar, preacher,
and teacher, St. Raymond of Penyafort. A teacher at twenty and a doc-
tor of both canon and civil law at thirty, Raymond happily taught and
studied into his fifties, only to become St. Dominic's chosen successor as
head of the order in 1221. Raymond's health collapsed and the Domin-
icans returned him to his humbler routine, whereupon Raymond of
Penyafort lived into his one hundredth year, around 1270o. Just as the
example of Raymond of Penyafort adds lustre to the life of doing
the ordinary, so do the examples of the Dominican women who fill the
pages of Sister Sheila Hackett's book.
The people who officially declared their independence of Mexico on
March 2, 1836, had included as a unique reason the failure of Mexico
"to establish any public system of education, although possessed of al-
most boundless resources," that is, public domain. In 1838 President
Sam Houston of the Republic of Texas pronounced it a duty to set aside
public lands "to the purpose of general education." A Texas law of 184o
assigned 17,712 acres as the permanent endowment for each county's
public school system. The Constitution of 1845 accepted the principle
of general taxation for education, but, through World War II, the most
committed and productive educational facilities in many areas of Texas
were denominational schools.
Portia, in The Merchant of Venice, states: "I can easier teach twenty
what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine
own teaching." Sister Sheila Hackett proves that twenty Dominican
women and their successors bridged that gap in her candid interpre-
tation of their experiences in Texas, beginning in Galveston in Sep-
Despite the vigor, wit, and sensitivity with which the writer handles
her materials, the story she chronicles might tax the reader's credulity.
Her history, which spans one hundred years, testifies to the patience,
fortitude, and faith of the Dominican women in the face of innumer-
able crises and challenges: the Galveston storm of 19oo, the Ku Klux
Klan, the influenza epidemic of 1918, recruiting personnel in Ireland
in 1914 as the "guns of August" were going off in France, the ever-
increasing cost of education, and the perpetual inadequacy of funds.
Climaxing the first century of the order in Texas is the appearance of
its first full-time artist. A Texas-born Dominican, she has a studio in
which to work, display, and live, and has received international acclaim
for her liturgical art.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988, periodical, 1987/1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/m1/310/: accessed October 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.