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  April 17, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 8Oakland, CA

articles list

Sisters lead relief in 1906 quake
Mercy Sisters send patients to Oakland, set up tent hospital
Mission San Jose Dominicans take in children made homeless by quake

1906 disaster spurs new ministries in East Bay
Holy Names Sisters move three times to escape fire engulfing San Francisco
Presentation Sisters become refugees and relief workers
Providence Sisters comfort quake victims at hospital in Oakland

Daughters of Charity remember 1906

Gospel of Judas’ paints favorable image
'Gospel of Judas’ not likely to resolve theological debates, says bible scholar
A brief explanation of gnosticism

Cost of clergy sex abuse in U.S. now exceeds $1.5 billion
Judging effectiveness of abuse policy issues
'Fraternal correction’ urged for two bishops

Hundreds of thousands flock to Washington D.C. immigration rally

Carondelet High students tackle
consumerism as issue of faith

New administrator named to St. Jarlath Parish

Project Andrew recruits priests

Peace activist priest to speak May 8 at Christ the King Church

Red Cross honors local heroes

Red Cross seeks church involvement

Holy Spirit School in Fremont wins
national award for innovation

Catholic book store relocates from S.F.




























Sisters lead relief in 1906 quake

•Mercy Sisters send patients to Oakland, set up tent hospital

•Mission San Jose Dominicans take in children made homeless by quake


Mercy Sisters send patients to Oakland, set up tent hospital

(This eyewitness account was written by a Sister of Mercy (name unknown) serving at St. Mary’s Hospital on Rincon Hill in San Francisco on April 18, 1906, the day of the quake.)

The Sisters had decided to move the patients at 1:30 on Wednesday afternoon, and the removal took until 5 o’clock. First the Newark was sent up immediately with the whole crew at the disposal of the Sisters, but the Modoc arrived at three, and being adapted for hospital purposes, the patients were transferred thereto.

The medical staff of St. Mary’s was successful in obtaining vehicles of all kinds to transport the sick and the old, and last of all the Sisters. There were 150 patients, of whom 90 were confined to bed, and 100 old ladies, of whom 20 were bedridden. The old men, in number about 20, and the convalescents walked down to the mail dock, where all were embarked.

Many an eye was turned to St. Mary’s as they sat on the deck. A sudden change in the wind had driven the smoke from the hill, and the building stood clear against the evening sky while the dense pall of smoke covered the whole City. For some of the Sisters it had been their home for half a century, and as they saw it intact amidst the surrounding desolation they cried: “It is saved! We shall be in our old home tomorrow.”

About 11 o’clock at night the fire touched the old Home. The hospital burned slowly. A blue whirlwind of flame seemed to pass over the hill. The cross on St. Mary’s glowed to the last like a beacon, and fixed forever on the eminence the title of The Red Cross Hill.

By this time the Modoc was moored to the Broadway Wharf in Oakland. The Reverend Mother and the novices left the ship, assisted by volunteers, former patients of the hospital, who directed their way and even bought their tickets. They reached their own house, Lourdes Academy, (in St. Anthony’s Parish) in East Oakland about 7 p.m.

In the meantime Mayor Mott, with splendid thoughtfulness had offered the hospitality of the city to the refugees, and had even selected a hall for the accommodation of the patients. It was not necessary to call upon this, as the Sisters, who were now beginning to realize the extent of the calamity, had, through the energy and kindness of Mr. Hugh Hogan, president of the Advisory Committee of St. Anthony’s, secured the old Pope Mansion for the hospital.

Mr. Manuel Azaveda, a man of leadership among the Portuguese population, gave the Portuguese Hall at Independence Square for the old ladies.

A little cottage belonging to the Sisters on the site of what was to become Our Lady’s Home in Fruitvale [Mercy Retirement and Care Center] was used for the more delicate and sickly. One of them far advanced in her eighties declared that even an earthquake and fire might be endured which brought them to the beautiful air of East Oakland. “It has renewed my youth,” was her constant exclamation.

The Elks of Alameda, with magnificent generosity, took charge of the old men, and lodged them in their camp site near Encinal City, and treated the old people with royal generosity. The nurses who had lost everything except courage and cheerfulness were put up at St. Anthony’s Hall.

At first there was a certain amount of hardship, but cots were secured in a day or two, though the Sisters themselves were still for the most part sleeping on the floor.

Owing to the indomitable energy of Mr. Thomas Lacey of East Oakland, the Sisters who were marooned at St. Hilary’s [Tiburon] were able to rejoin their companions. They made a perilous voyage up the San Antonio Estuary, and after running aground on numerous mud banks in that locality, they were taken off the launch in row boats and landed at Peterson’s Wharf.

The Superiors immediately decided to restore the hospital of St. Mary’s on the site chosen for the new building at the entrance to Golden Gate Park at Hayes and Stanyan. The foundations were to have been laid in May, had not this catastrophe occurred.

When Reverend Mother called for volunteers to enter the stricken city—and that very morning the news ran through Oakland that the federal authorities had declared a quarantine in San Francisco – every hand was raised, even the hands of the novices and postulants to volunteer for the most difficult work.

On Monday, April 23, eight Sisters—the same number who set forth from Kinsale, Ireland, in 1854 to found the Convent in San Francisco with Mother Russell at their head—set forth from Lourdes Academy, East Oakland, and under the guidance of Mother Pius Savage began the new and grander St. Mary’s that will for many a year minister to the needs of the more beautiful and prosperous Sa Francisco that will rise on her hills purified by fire.


Mission San Jose Dominicans take in children made homeless by quake

The night of the great quake, the Dominican Sisters living in Mission San Jose slept in two stables instead of their large brick building which had suffered minor damage, but needed major cleaning. With fires still raging in San Francisco the next day, they went to their chapel to pray the rosary continuously for the victims and survivors, who were already pouring into the East Bay.

Ten days later, the Sisters responded to a telegram from the State Board of Examiners seeking accommodations for the many children made homeless by the quake.

On May 7, Mother Salesia took at least 15 boys to the Sisters’ orphanage in Ukiah. The Sisters’ archives report that many additional children arrived in Mission San Jose on May 8.

An unpublished manuscript notes that “The Sisters’ ability to feed and clothe so many was in large part due to the generosity of the people. California Governor George Pardee sent a personal donation of $500, in addition to a carload of provisions and clothing.

“The San Francisco Relief Committee made a gift of $1,000 towards the maintenance of the orphanage [for girls] in Mission San Jose, sending a second check later for $2,000 in appreciation of the services rendered by the Sisters during the harrowing aftermath of the quake.

“The gifts were a blessing as the carpenter’s estimate for replacing the kitchen and dining room at Mission San Jose came to “$3,000!”
While the kitchen was being rebuilt, the Sisters cooked in a tent and often ate outside under the olive trees.

According to local historian Philip Holmes, the people of Niles and Centerville (later Fremont) decided to care for as many quake-displaced families as possible.

Five days after the quake and fire, the Mercy Sisters set up a hospital in 50 tents at Hayes and Stanyan Streets in San Francisco.


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