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placeholder February 4, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA

In 1947 the Sisters bought property for the first time in Los Gatos, where a convent opened in 1952.
Courtesy photo

Sisters to leave Los Gatos

They had hoped to remain on their property in Los Gatos.

So they examined every option from remodeling aging buildings at the northern California campus to partnering with another organization to develop a sustainable continuing care retirement community for their elderly members.

But after more than two years of prayer, discernment and analysis, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary recently and reluctantly decided that they must leave their longtime home and resettle their senior Sisters in two retirement communities in the Santa Clara Valley. The move or "transitioning" of the Los Gatos Sisters is expected to take place in the spring and summer of 2013.

"We all know someone who is planning and caring for an aging parent, grandparent or another family member and, in our case, the Sisters are a very large family," said Sister Mary Pat LeRoy, chair of the planning effort. "We are ensuring the highest quality, long term care and housing for our aging Sisters and the continuation of our mission, ministry and service to the community."

At each of the retirement communities — Our Lady of Fatima Villa in Saratoga and Merrill Gardens at Campbell in Campbell — the Holy Names Sisters will provide "pastoral and community support," Sister LeRoy said.

Six Sisters of the Holy Names left their foundation house in Quebec, Canada, and traveled by ship and train to Oakland, California, in 1868. After establishing the first convent and school at the shores of Lake Merritt, schools began to pop up throughout Oakland and San Francisco. By the 1890s, academies run by the community had been established across the state.

Holy Names College opened in 1926 and began welcoming lay women in addition to the young women who had enrolled as students of the religious community. Soon afterwards Holy Names High School launched a longtime ministry of educating young girls from the city of Oakland. During World War II the Sisters moved the convent from Oakland to the Warms Springs district of Fremont. In 1947 the Sisters bought property for the first time in Los Gatos, where a convent opened in 1952.

Over the years the Sisters added more property and buildings on the Los Gatos campus that now totals 11.8 acres on multiple parcels of land, 13 buildings that include three-story convent buildings and other structures that add up to some 95,000 square feet of space. Administrative offices, 10 residences of the Sisters are currently on the site as are facilities for retreat participants and other visitors.

The campus can accommodate 120 Sisters and includes an onsite care center, chapel, dining, and recreation facilities for retreats. Sixty-six Sisters, many of whom are retired or in need of skilled health care, are currently living there.

The Holy Names Sisters have hosted and served tens of thousands of Sisters, Los Gatos families and people from nearby cities in need over the years "through our work at the convent and in the broader community," Sister LeRoy said.

There are 1,000 Sisters of the Holy Names around the world, 169 of them live in California.

Sister LeRoy said Sisters plan on working with their neighbors and the town of Los Gatos over the next couple of years on the transitioning of the convent property as well. Noting the residential area of the site, the idea is to return the property to its original state, consistent with "the surrounding neighborhood, the existing zoning for the property and the town's general plan," she added.

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