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placeholder March 4, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
DSPT honors 5 Bay Area sisters with Alemany Award

Rev. Michael Sweeney

Every year, in memory of Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, OP, the first archbishop of San Francisco, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology honors men and women who have distinguished themselves by exemplary service to the Church and community. This year the Alemany Award will be presented to five sisters whose work has exemplified the service to the Church for which their congregations were founded.

Sister Marjory Ann Baez, DC, is presently provincial of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. On Aug. 18, 1852 at the invitation of Archbishop Alemany, the Daughters of Charity arrived in San Francisco from New York. Immediately they opened an orphanage and school and, later, an infirmary and home for infants. Always they were drawn to serve the poor and the dispossessed. In her own life, Sister Marjory Ann has lived the charism of her congregation as a nurse, a teacher, a hospital administrator and formation director.

 
Alemany Award Dinner

April 6

5:30 p.m. Mass, 6:30 p.m. reception and dinner

Cathedral Event Center at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral

1111 Gough St., San Francisco

$185 per person / $1,800 per table (10 guests)

RSVP at dspt.edu/alemany2013 or 510-883-7159

Net event proceeds will benefit the education of lay and religious students
 
The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael arrived in San Francisco on Dec. 6, 1850 with then Bishop Alemany. Immediately the sisters opened a school for girls, but soon after entered the medical field as well. Sister Anne Bertain, OP, a well-known and beloved figure in San Francisco, has lived both dimensions of her congregation's heritage. She began teaching elementary school for more than 20 years before initiating many programs for the homeless and elderly, the homebound and families in need. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI conferred on Sister Anne the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for the Church and the pope) Award for her ministry to the people of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Sixty-two years ago Sister Marguerite Buchanan, RSM, began her religious life in the Sisters of Mercy. Having served as teacher and principal for almost 30 years in the Sisters of Mercy High Schools, Sister Marguerite was called to attend to the spiritual needs of prisoners. Beginning as a chaplain at San Quentin she went on to found Catherine's Center, a home for women who are transitioning back into society. Her sisters arrived in San Francisco in 1854 at the invitation of Archbishop Alemany in order to educate and to heal, and Sister Marguerite has lived that vocation.

In 1854 five Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary arrived in San Francisco. Their early years were difficult: a cloistered community, they were little understood by the Catholic community that they had been sent to serve. However, by 1900 they had established convents and schools in San Francisco, Berkeley, Gilroy and Sonoma. Sister Rosina Conrotto, PBVM, began her religious life as a teacher and, having studied in Rome, went on to further establish her congregation, serving as director of novices, as president of the congregation, and in the spiritual formation of the laity. She now serves as the director of the Office for Women Religious for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The Religious of the Sacred Heart arrived in San Francisco in 1887, shortly after Archbishop Alemany's retirement. Since then the congregation has founded schools for boys and girls in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. The Catholic community has been very much enriched by their presence. Having taught and served as principal in an elementary school, Sister Nancy Morris, RSCJ, was later appointed president of the San Diego College of Women and supervised its merger with the San Diego Men's College to become the University of San Diego. Her subsequent work with migrants and with immigrant families in the San Jose Diocese led her to learn development work and her congregation has relied upon her ability to secure the support necessary to maintain their schools. She is involved in her parish, St. Raymond's in Menlo Park and co-chaplain of the Serra Club.

If we propose to celebrate Archbishop Alemany and his accomplishment in establishing the Church in Northern California, we must remember the extraordinary women who have served us. Archbishop Alemany's first priority as archbishop was to invite religious communities of women into the archdiocese. It is in his spirit that we propose, now, to honor our sisters. More information about the Alemany Dinner and reservations can be secured at www.dspt.edu/alemany2013.

(Father Sweeney is president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley.)

 
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