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No Shrinking Violets:
Collaboration Among Friends

Sr. Glenn Anne
Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee, OP
MISSION SAN JOSE, CA. - July 10, 2009 -- Fruitvale is the name of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oakland, CA where two of the oldest Religious Orders who have been “friends” for centuries live and minister to an ever changing population.

On one side of 34th Avenue, Franciscan Friars minister through St. Elizabeth Parish Church, the provincial offices, and formation are located there. Just across the street, the Mission San Jose Dominicans form community, pray, minister, and study and the Holy Name Province Dominicans live and minister nearby.

The 15 sisters living at Saint Elizabeth’s Convent are full-time students, teachers, administrators, and serve in pastoral care, parish work, information technology, finance, development, outreach to the poor and justice promotion.

Sr. Liam Brock, OP, the prioress of Saint Elizabeth’s convent and principal of the high school, a native of the Fruitvale, just celebrated her 50th anniversary of profession as a Dominican Sister. Sr. Ann Ronin, OP, and three volunteer teachers offer English as a Second Language free to parishioners. Sr. Stella Marie Good Pasture, OP, works with the Dominican Justice Promoters and the Haiti Action Committee. Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee, OP, serves as Chancellor in the Oakland diocese.

Sr. Rose Marie Hennessy, OP, serves as principal of the elementary school. A Dominican brother who lives at Mercy Center comes to the school on his walker once a week to minister in the library.

S. Rose Marie and Joseph Petersen at Saint Elizabeth Elementary School in Oakland.

Sr. Lilly Fitzpatrick and Sara Brabec at Immaculate Conception Academy, a new Cristo Rey school in San Francisco.

St. Elizabeth’s also offers hospitality to guests who come for service or study in the area. Mrs. Ellen Spencer, a lay Dominican who is principal of two neighboring Catholic elementary schools, shares evening prayer and meals at the convent on evenings when the one hour drive home is just not “appealing”. As Sr. Rose Marie observed enthusiastically, “Dominican collaboration continues into the late hours of the night!”

Sara Brabec, a member of Dominican Volunteers USA, learned about the program through the Center for Service and Justice at Creighton University where she majored in theology. Sara came to work in the parish and live in community with the sisters where her fluency in Spanish is a great gift. During the school year she helped to prepare second graders for first communion and tutored students with special needs. This summer she is working at the elementary school and with Sr. Lilly Fitzpatrick, OP, at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco.

Mary Perez came to St. Elizabeth’s from Memphis where she graduated with a master’s in Teaching through the Lance Program at Christian Brothers University. She taught in the elementary school full time and attended many events and functions with the sisters throughout the year including an immersion experience in Chiapas, Mexico, where the sisters work for peace and justice with the indigenous. Mary was looking for way to be of service and be a scholar at the same time. She has just completed a discernment process and is looking forwarded to candidacy with the Dominican Sisters on August 29th.

Visit the Mission San Jose Dominicans website

"[The sisters]
deal with the real stuff. That’s why I like to send my student brothers to train there."















Mary Perez

S. Dulce Aguilar, Mary-Han Ngyuen, Julieta Puente, and Mary Yun share memories of their immersion experience in Chiapas, Mexico.
Sr. Dulce Sarae Aguilar Rodriguez has been a volunteer in the elementary school too, teaching advanced Spanish reading and writing to native speakers of Spanish and English reading to fast readers in the second grade.

On August 8th, Sr. Dulce will make First Profession, along with another novice Sr. Mary Han Nguyen and both will continue advanced studies in the fall. First year novice Sr. Mary Yun will begin her second year of the novitiate. The three novices and Mary Perez enjoyed meeting Julieta Puente, during their immersion experience in Chiapas, Mexico. Julieta will enter in Mexico.
Father Kieran Healy, Student Master in charge of 20 younger Dominican brothers in formation at Saint Albert’s Priory, says Mass at St. Elizabeth’s once a week and often stays for dinner. He says the sisters keep him in touch with what’s happening in the city. “They know everything going on. They’re very well connected because of the variety of ministries. There are no shrinking violets in that group! They’re tough. They deal with the real stuff. That’s why I like to send my student brothers to train there.” Sr. Rose Marie remarked, “The Dominican Charism is evident in our lives, our study, our ministry, and our conversation. It is wonderful to be encouraged and understood by one another. Often it is the kind of sharing where words don’t have to be spoken.”

by Sr. Donna Maria Moses, OP
Chief Information Officer
Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose