The Revealed Unknown History of Ursuline’s Stain-glass Window

The stain-glass window, located in the French Family Center, that students pass by daily has a deeper history than the eye can tell. Two current students, Amanda ’19 and Julia Stockard ‘20, relate to the history of the window through the relationship of their great-great-great aunt, Mary Joseph Sloan, whose tombstone is still hidden on the ground of Ursuline. The family’s history reaches back about 150 years.

The window, donated to Ursuline on January 28, 1899 was given as a gift with a high price of one-thousand dollars, to mark Ursuline’s presence in Dallas for 25 years. The window, found decades later was shattered in boxes wrapped in the old stockings of the nuns who packed it away. It was taken down from its original placement and placed in crates in the 1950s because main hall was being built on the present-day campus.

In 1974 the school gave the window in the crates to the city’s historical society. The historical society was supposed to find a place in Old City Park, but they were unable to find a place for the window, so they gave the window back to Ursuline.

It was stored in one of Ursuline Academy’s sheds on campus until the 90s when it was taken out of storage. It was stored horizontally instead of vertically which caused it to shatter. There was only one section that was in one piece.

In the early 90s Jeanne Marie Aber ’33 and Sybil Tucker ‘51, who was then the alumnae director, hand washed all the pieces and attempted to put back together the window. They contacted the company in Germany that originally made the window to see if they could put it back together, but that was not possible.

The window, eventually restored by Stanton Studios located in Waco, Texas, tells the story of the “The Five Wise Virgins,” which was created in the year of 1899 in Munich, Germany. The window was placed over the high altar in the chapel of the old Ursuline Academy. With no image of the original window, Stanton Studios, had to arrange the massive two-story window into the original image. The window that is currently 112 years-old, was completed and placed into the French Family Center.

Mary Joseph Sloan, was sent to Ursuline as a young child and was a boarder student, when Ursuline was still a grade school. Her family had moved to Texas after the Civil War, and she was the last child with lots of older brothers. Her mom died when she was young, so her father thought it was best for her to board at Ursuline.

She attended school, lived and worked at Ursuline her entire adolescent and adult life. During her time working there, “She owned her own horse and buggy and she drove around all the Ursuline nuns,” said Sue Stockard, the relative of Mary Joseph Sloan.  Mary Joseph Sloan died at Ursuline in the year 1904 at the age of 50 years old and was buried with the other Ursuline sisters.

Mary Joseph Sloan had always wanted to be a nun, but that hope was shattered due to her horseback riding injury that prevented her ability to become a sister. Mary Joseph Sloan’s remains are buried with the other Ursuline Sisters at the Calvary Hill Cemetery in Dallas.

Mary Joseph Sloan made a huge impact on the community of Ursuline. Sloan, referred to by students as “Aunt Mopsey” was one of the founders of the Ursuline Academy Alumnae Association around 1899.

Mother Evangelist Holly described the Alumnae Association as an organization “whose purpose will be to foster and perpetuate your own school-girl friendships, to preserve and strengthen ties with your Ursuline teacher, and to advance the interests of your Alma Mater. I do not know of any institution in the South that has such an association; you may take the lead.”

Sloan, was instrumental in the acquisition of the stained-glass window. Inscribed on the top of the window appears the legend “In memory of the Sloan Family.” When asked what Sister Mary Troy, class of 1951 and classmate of Sybil Tucker thought of the window she said, “It’s a part of my past; it’s a part of the old chapel. I think of Sr. Peggy’s words about it: it makes the whole space sacred, where the girls walk, it makes the whole space sacred. It’s just beautiful to look at.”

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