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  March 6, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 5Oakland, CA

articles list

Two Catholic schools mark 125 years in Alameda

Alums recall their days at Notre Dame and St. Joseph

Theological education thrives at East Bay universities

Basilian Fathers
to withdraw from
Bishop O’Dowd

Doctrinal chief: Openly gay priests make it tough to represent Christ

IRS updates politicking guidelines

Catholic Democrats issue 'statement of principles'

Prayer vigil over death penalty

Retreat planned for
priests, religious who
are sex abuse victims

Father Edmund Hayburn dies at 90



Lenten reflection:
Listen to Christ’s heart with a spiritual stethoscope



Sister Mary Wilma King, SND

Sister Celestine Mary O’Brien, SNJM

Sister M. Bernice Sherlock, O.P.

























Two Catholic schools mark 125 years in Alameda

Catholic education arrived in Alameda in 1881, preceding the formation of the first parish, St. Joseph, by four years. At that time Alameda was a rural peninsula inhabited by about 6,000 residents. The Catholics were served by St. Anthony Parish in east Oakland, whose pastor, Father William Gleeson, traveled by horseback or by foot to say Mass in the mission chapel on the corner of Chestnut Street and San Antonio Avenue.

It was Father Gleeson who invited the Sisters of the Notre Dame de Namur to establish a school in Alameda. Four Sisters, headed by Sister Marie du Sacre Coeur, moved into their new convent in March 1881 and soon opened Notre Dame Academy for girls in grades one through 12.

On the first day of class, 37 students arrived and the Sisters divided them into two classes. They also accepted the seven young boys who showed up. Eventually, St. Joseph Elementary School and two high schools (Notre Dame Academy for girls and St. Joseph High for boys) were established. St. Joseph Parish was established in 1885.

In 1935, the Marianist Brothers assumed responsibility for the administration of St. Joseph High with Marianist Brother Matthew Betz as principal. Brother Charles Weiss joined the faculty for the 33 freshmen and 24 sophomores, who came not only from Alameda, but also from Oakland, San Leandro and Berkeley.

In the late 1950s, when the schools’ buildings began to show the wear of time, Msgr. Alvin Wagner, pastor at St. Joseph Parish, suggested that a new high school for girls be built and that the boys’ high school undergo renovation. The plan was realized in 1960 when a new building replaced Notre Dame Academy.

The Marianist Brothers relinquished responsibility for St. Joseph High in 1970, and gradually both high schools began sharing classes and developing a joint curriculum.

During the 1984-85 school year, the schools started the formal process of consolidating into one co-educational school. St. Joseph Notre Dame High School opened in September 1985.

Tony Aiello, St. Joseph Notre Dame High principal, said it was the support of the whole parish-school community, under the direction of then-pastor Father Patrick Goodwin, that made the merger “as seamless as possible.”

The Notre Dame Sisters ended their administrative role at the high school in the early 1980s, but the Sisters continued to serve in the school through 1990. The last of the Sisters to minister in the elementary school, Sister Agnes Anzoli, left in the
1990s. Mandy Tham is the current principal.

Over the past 20 years, the parish’s schools and parish buildings have been renovated and remodeled and today all the entities work together as St. Joseph Community with a master facilities plan.

For example, SJND, which recently completed a $5.5 million capital campaign, has expanded and modernized its library and built a new music center. “We eagerly await the completion of the new science center and the renovated gymnasium," said Aiello of the project expected to be completed next year.

Because the elementary school and high school are on the same campus, they share a close and complementary relationship. Students from the high school tutor at the elementary school and assist teachers in the classrooms. Meanwhile eligible students from the elementary school take advanced classes like Algebra I or geometry at the high school.

St. Joseph Notre Dame High School has a current enrollment of 508 students, and St. Joseph Elementary School has 260 students.


1881: Notre Dame Sister Marie de Sacre Coeur comes to Alameda with a group of four Sisters and opens Notre Dame Academy.

1885: A former mission of St. Anthony Parish in Oakland, St. Joseph Parish is established and Father Michael McNaboe becomes pastor. A grammar school is started at the parish.

: Father J. Bernard Praught, an educator, becomes pastor. He also served as principal at St. Joseph Grammar School. During his 30-year tenure he was noted for maintaining a high level of achievement among the students.

: St. Joseph Basilica is completed along with the new building for St. Joseph Elementary School. Notre Dame Academy became Notre Dame High School.

: A boys’ high school, St. Joseph’s, opens under the direction of the Marianist Brothers with Brother Matthew Betz as founding principal. The first student body consisted of 33 freshmen and 24 sophomores.

: The first class of St. Joseph High School graduates.

: Msgr. Alvin P. Wagner becomes pastor and becomes known for dedicated support of the three schools. During his pastorate (1957-83) he oversaw the renovation of school facilities and construction of new school buildings.

: The new Notre Dame Girls High School opens, replacing the old school. St. Joseph Elementary School begins their Round the Town luncheon. The fundraiser continues to this day.

: The Marianist Brothers leave St. Joseph High School.

: The Sacred Heart Fathers assume responsibility for the parish.

: Notre Dame Academy and St. Joseph High School merge to form St. Joseph-Notre Dame High School. Anthony Aiello, who had been principal at St. Joseph High School for the previous 15 years, becomes principal at the combined school.

: Students, faculty, alumni will gather March 26 at St. Joseph Basilica to celebrate 125 years of education in Alameda. Open houses will be held at both St. Joseph Elementary and St. Joseph Notre Dame High schools.

St. Joseph High 1939 basketball team added to the school’s athletic tradition.


Girls graduating from Notre Dame Academy gather afterwards for an informal picture.


In the 1880s St. Joseph School had accommodations for student boarders.

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