St. Cecilia Academy is a private all-girls Catholic high school owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of the St. Cecilia Congregation in the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee. The Dominican Sisters devote themselves to Christian education of youth in institutions of learning. The Academy is responsible to carry out its mission in keeping with the unique charism of the Dominican Order and the St. Cecilia Congregation, fostering the Gospel spirit of truth and charity while seeking to relate all human culture to the news of salvation. St. Cecilia Academy is accredited by Cognia.

Mission Promise

Exercising its mission on the foundation of the life and teaching of the Catholic Church, St. Cecilia Academy ennobles young women, equips them to excel, and inspires them to lead lives of integrity.

Philosophy Statement

Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world. (Mt. 28:19-20)

With these words, Christ sent forth his apostles on a mission of evangelization. Catholic education promotes and fosters the teachings and values of the Catholic Church as articulated by the magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church. Through Catholic education, the young women of St. Cecilia Academy are encouraged in their efforts to grow in their relationship with God, who in Jesus Christ reveals His transforming love and truth. Christ is the foundation of Catholic education; He is the Master who journeys with students through school and life as genuine Teacher and perfect Man. Through emphasis on the Dominican four pillars of study, prayer, community, and service, St. Cecilia Academy fulfills its purpose of the critical transmission of culture in the light of faith and integral formation of students in body, mind, and spirit.

Since 1216, the Order of Preachers has been called to preach and teach the Word of God. St. Dominic embodied the teaching mission of the Church by sending his followers out into the world to proclaim the Gospel to all people. Since 1860 the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation have continued this mission of St. Dominic at St. Cecilia Academy, offering young women an intellectual foundation in the liberal arts that encourages them to love knowledge for its own sake and to excel in scholastic and extracurricular pursuits within the context of a joyful, Christ-centered community.

A peek in

Our Dominican Tradition

The Dominican tradition rests on the four pillars of prayer, study, community and service.
From its earliest foundations the Dominican Order held study and the pursuit of truth as one of its highest ideals. Eight centuries later, that ideal is still lived in the hearts and minds of the St. Cecilia community. Study for the things of this life and study for the life to come form a focused, joyful environment that provides confidence and a sense of security for the young women who cross its portals year after year.

Every aspect of the life and mission of St. Cecilia Academy finds its origin and goal in faith in God and reliance on divine grace. Created in God’s image, each student possesses an inherent dignity and a vocation to know the truth and love the good.

All faiths are respected at St. Cecilia, and every student is encouraged to develop her own relationship with God. The Dominican presence on campus has a profound effect on our students. Education is the basis of the Dominican heritage, and for over 700 years, the Dominican Sisters have used their teaching skills, along with their gifts of love, patience, and understanding, to educate young minds. Every girl at St. Cecilia benefits from the wisdom and inspiration the Sisters bring to the Academy.

“As daughters of the Church and in devotion to her, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia strive to be faithful to her teachings and to lead a life of zeal, engaging in apostolic activity penetrated by a religious spirit. We live for the Church, and by serving her we enter into the mystery of Christ.” (Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation)

School Patron, St. Cecilia

Cecilia’s story is well guarded by long-standing tradition, which presents to us a young Christian girl with an undying faith in an era when faith was an unpopular and dangerous virtue. Born to pagan parents in second-century Rome, and perhaps converted through the instrumentality of a Christian nurse, Cecilia was raised in a noble home during a time of persecution. We are told that, according to custom, Cecilia’s parents arranged for her to marry a young patrician named Valerian. Cecilia, however, had already vowed her virginity to God, desiring to root herself even more deeply in her baptismal consecration. On her wedding night, she resolutely explained her vow to Valerian, whose initial anger and confusion were transformed into conversion under the influence of his wife’s strong faith and the instruction of the Christian bishop. After caring for Rome’s poor and dedicating herself to good works all around the city, Cecilia was eventually arrested and tried for her Christian faith, yet she refused to deny her Lord and was thus condemned to death. After a failed attempt to suffocate her in a heated bath in her own home, an executioner was sent to behead her. His blows failed to kill her immediately, and she survived for three days. We are told that, even in her dying condition, she continued to offer the witness of a vibrant faith, hope, and charity that would not die. Cecilia bequeathed her possessions to the poor and her home to the Church, to be used as a house of worship that stands to this day. In 821 A.D. Pope Paschal I had Cecilia’s body removed from its burial place in the Catacomb of St. Callistus, where it was found incorrupt, and reinterred under the altar in the Basilica of St. Cecilia. Almost seven centuries later, in 1599, the titular bishop of the basilica, wishing to enlarge and decorate the structure, excavated beneath the altar and opened Cecilia’s coffin as well as her husband’s. All present were deeply moved when they saw Cecilia’s body, still perfectly incorrupt, lying on her right side as naturally as if she were asleep. The sculptor Stefano Maderno was commissioned to carve the saint in this position of her martyrdom.