Exactly 150 years after the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary arrived in California, nearly 300 people joined together at St. Theresa’s Parish Event Center in Oakland in celebration of the Sisters and their ministries.
The theme for the 2018 sesquicentennial is Remember, Rejoice, Renew — and guests at the May 10 gathering did just that.
Sister Cynthia Canning ’68 MA emceed and Sister Maureen Delaney '69, U.S.-Ontario Province Leader, welcomed guests to the event, which featured music, moving speeches, and a light meal that, naturally, starred ripe, wonderful strawberries!
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke at the gathering about the positive and enduring contributions of the Sisters of the Holy Names in Oakland and beyond, and proclaimed May 10, 2018, "Sisters of the Holy Names Day in Oakland."
The Holy Names High School (HNHS) chorale performed the beautiful and appropriate hymn, “How can I keep from singing.”
They were followed by four alumni of SNJM-led schools, who shared personal stories and their gratitude for the Sisters’ lasting gifts.
Tim Lavelle, entrepreneur and former army officer, is a graduate of St. Monica School in San Francisco. He remembered and thanked many Sisters for who he is today, saying they inspired him to always look for ways to help others and supported him when he needed it most.
Ana Rafael ’89, director of sales for an international entertainment software company, is an alumna of Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School, Holy Names High School, and Holy Names University. She described the “unique beam of light” that touches the lives of those who know a Sister of the Holy Names through education, prayers, love, and the acts of grace that manifest through the Sisters. With the Sisters’ guidance she grew into a strong female leader, unafraid to use her words with integrity but also with humility.
Monsignor Antonio Valdivia attended St. Mary School in West Oakland, where he studied during and after WWII. He spoke lovingly of Sister Guadalupe, the principal, who was also a counselor and a “friend of the family” in his community. “Most of us were immigrants from Mexico, living in a new country, with new food, new ways of doing things ... Our school was our comfort zone.” Valdivia shared that May 10 is also Mothers’ Day across Latin America. He concluded with a heartfelt thank you to the women in the SNJM community and beyond.
Kendra Carr, an alumna and now principal of Holy Names High School said as a high school student at HNHS she was nurtured, pushed, and seen. There were no boys to defer to, so she and her classmates were challenged to expand within themselves, she added. Speaking of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Karr said, “They ignited a flame in my spirit that continues to burn today.” She connected the HNHS motto, Noblesse Oblige, to the words of Malcolm X: “The more you know, the more you owe.”
Bishop Emeritus John Cummins of the Oakland Diocese gave the final blessing. He is an alum of Saint Augustus, where he attended elementary school in the 1930s. He shared a passage from the Gospel of Luke — “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled!” — to describe the powerful and inspiring vision of Mother Marie Rose Durocher when she arrived in California 150 years ago.
View photos on the Sisters’ sesquicentennial website: www.snjmca150.org.