Window to Art of Sister Vincent
TYNGSBORO -- The Academy of Notre Dame was brought back in time this summer, as family members of noted artist Sister Vincent de Paul Curran visited the 91-year-old building that is home to their descendant’s stained-glass window designs.
Born Mary Theresa Curran, Sister Vincent joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Novitiate in 1924 and was assigned to a school in Pennsylvania before being sent to the academy in 1932 to initiate an arts program at the newly opened facility. She could not have known then the impact her life’s work would have on the Notre Dame de Namur community.
Fast-forward to 2018, where Madison Breault, a sophomore from Dracut, feels a stronger connection than most students do to Sister Vincent’s designs. Breault is Sister Vincent’s great-great-grandniece. Recently, she brought family members to the academy to view their ancestor’s work in the Chapel.
“When I first came to NDA, I was 4 years old, and I did not notice the windows,” Madison said. “At the time, I did not know about my connection to Sister Vincent. When I learned about my link to her, I was 7 years old, and I started to pay more attention to them. Seeing my family members looking at those windows this summer reminded me of how I felt that day looking up at the windows and realizing that my great-great-great-aunt made it possible for them to touch the lives of everyone who walks through the chapel.”
For 22 years, Sister Vincent stayed at the academy and continued her art studies in the Boston area. After her tenure at the academy, she served as chairperson of the Art Department at Emmanuel College and was a consultant on art education for the Notre Dame Order in the Boston area.
In the 1960s, Sister Vincent developed an art program for the schools in the Archdiocese of Boston and produced an art show on Channel 38 in Boston called “Studio 20.”
Although she worked in many media, perhaps her best-known work was in stained glass. In the late 1950s, she designed the stained-glass windows for the new Our Lady’s Chapel at NDA in Tyngsboro, completed in 1958. The windows depict the Sacrifice of the Mass in symbolism and follow in sequence the various parts of the Mass. Later, she was named art director at the Notre Dame de Namur Novitiate in Ipswich, where she also designed the windows for the Our Lady, Queen Chapel. She is also credited for designs in mosaics, Stations of the Cross and the windows at St. Paul’s Church in Hamilton.
Sister Vincent de Paul died in 1982, leaving behind an impressive body of art that will, undoubtedly, preserve her name and legacy. Her beautiful designs continue to be admired and cherished by the countless families who have sent students to the school over the years, as well as the entire Notre Dame de Namur community.
To request a visit to view Sister Vincent de Paul Curran’s stained-glass windows at the Academy of Notre Dame, call 978-649-7611.