Sister Ellen Mary (Amabilis) Cunningham, OP
Sister Ellen Mary (Amabilis) Cunningham, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose for 78 years, died Jan. 8 at the congregation's Motherhouse in Fremont. She was 96.
Sister Ellen Mary joined the congregation from her home parish, St. Elizabeth Parish in Oakland, where she attended both the elementary and high schools.
Although assigned to various parishes in California, two of Sister Ellen Mary's assignments stand out — St. Catherine in Anaheim and St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley. She was administrator and superior at St. Catherine's Military School in Anaheim (1961 to 1967). During this time she oversaw the building of the administration wing of the school. For this she was honored by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce in 1966 for her outstanding contribution to the community.
Sister Ellen Mary also left her mark on the hearts of the third grade students, class of 1955, at St. Mary Magdalen School in Berkeley. This class has had their reunions at Mission San Jose, coming from as far as Alaska, to be with their former teacher, according to an obituary written by the Sisters.
Other assignments include periods at schools in Lincoln Heights, Highland Park and in Anaheim, all in southern California. In the Bay Area she served at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco. Sister Ellen Mary also spent 40 years, at three different times, at the Mission San Jose Motherhouse.
Sister Ellen Mary also served her congregation as treasurer general from 1967 until 1986. During this time she set new benchmarks — she enrolled the congregation in Social Security in the early '70s and bought health insurance, setting the order on sound financial footing. Additionally, she spent many summers at the congregation's province in Mexico, to help the community there with its finances as well as their building project.
On the MSJ campus she oversaw two buildings, working with the city of Fremont, and was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as of National Associations of Religious Treasurers and Catholic healthcare. She was instrumental in establishing an advisory board of experts whose advice she sought and followed.
Her last years were spent in her unceasing interest in others, using her gift of listening carefully. Justice was an abiding concern. Her cheerful attitude and lively sense of humor were present until the end.
The funeral Mass was held Jan. 18 at the Sisters' chapel at the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, followed by burial in God's Acre.
Sister M. Eucharia Heidt, OP
Sister M. Eucharia Heidt died Feb. 16 at the Dominican Sisters' Motherhouse in Fremont. She was 87 years of age and served 67 years as a Dominican Sister.
Sister Eucharia, a native of New England, North Dakota, made elementary education her ministry. She served at schools in San Francisco, Anaheim, Portland, Oregon, San Jose and San Rafael. In the Diocese of Oakland she taught at School of the Madeleine in Berkeley and at St. Edward School in Newark.
She also ministered in health care at the Motherhouse and in Germany. Since 2009, her ministry was that of the apostolate of prayer.
Survivors include her sisters, Mrs. Ray (Marie) Stobie, Portland, Oregon; Sylvia Sullivan, Mobile, Alabama; and Carol (Mrs. William Clearman Jr.), Washington; and other family members.
The funeral Mass was held Feb. 20 at the Dominican Sisters' Chapel and presided by Rev. Steve Sobie, her nephew. Burial was in the Dominican Sisters Cemetery.
Rev. Richard Ranalletti, CSB
Rev. Richard Ranalletti, a former teacher, administrator and principal of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, died Feb. 14 at the age of 69.
Father Ranalletti, a native of Rochester, New York, professed his religious vows in 1967 in the Congregation of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers) and was ordained to the priesthood in 1973. Devoted to teaching, Father Ranalletti, a mathematician, served as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal at schools in New York, Michigan and California. At Bishop O'Dowd High School he ministered as a teacher and administrator in the mid-1980s. He served as principal from 1991 to 2000.
During his tenure at Bishop O'Dowd, he oversaw the construction of a two-story, 10-classroom addition. In an obituary posted by the high school's website, Father Rich, as he was called, is described as being very involved in curricular development, and interested in innovation.
Recently he served as secretary-general and treasurer-general of the Congregation of St. Basil at the Basilian Father's Curial offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 26 at St. James Catholic Church in Novi, Michigan. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan, the following day.
Sister Jude Ristey, PBVM
Sister Jude Ristey, a longtime educator, died Jan. 31 at the Presentation Motherhouse in San Francisco at the age of 84. She had been a Sister of the Presentation for 67 years
Sister Jude, whose baptismal name was Mary Theresa, was a native of San Jose, and was graduated with her bachelor's degree in education from the University of San Francisco. She began her ministry in teaching — which spanned some 30 years — in 1949 at Presentation elementary schools in San Francisco, Gilroy, San Jose and Los Angeles. In the Diocese of Oakland she taught at St. Columba School in Oakland from 1957 to 1959 and 1969 to 1970; and St. John the Baptist School in San Lorenzo from 1967 to 1969.
In the 1980s she joined the staff of the marriage tribunal, first for the Archdiocese of San Francisco as an advocate; she later filled the same role in the newly created Diocese in San Jose. In 2003, when she retired from the tribunal, she was a tribunal manager-case instructor.
In 1987, Sister Jude received a certificate in canon law from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. In 2000, she was honored with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John Paul II for her service to the San Jose Diocese.
Sister Jude worked part time in the Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 2004 to 2012. During those years, she was a regular volunteer with the Second Harvest Food Bank and with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Most recently, Sister Jude had been engaged in the ministry of prayer for those with Parkinson's disease.
She is survived by her nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.
The funeral Mass was held Feb. 10 at the Presentation Motherhouse, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Sister Mary Bertha Rehers, OP
Sister Mary Bertha Rehers, who excelled as a music teacher, died Jan. 20 at the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse in Fremont. She was 100 years of age and had been a Dominican Sister for 78 years.
A native of Los Angeles, Sister Mary Bertha attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools before she joined the Congregation. Her primary ministry was music education and she taught at schools in Anaheim, San Francisco, Los Angeles, La Canada-Flintridge, and Lincoln Heights.
From 1947 to 2007 Sister Mary Bertha taught at the Motherhouse — interrupted by only two years. She taught the young Sisters music, Gregorian chant, school music, voice, instrumental music and "a love for the Divine Office of which she was the choir director," according to the obituary released by the Congregation. During this time Sister began to take on a few students from the community, which eventually led her to open Queen of the Holy Rosary School of Music in 1964 as a department of Queen of the Rosary College in Fremont.
In addition to teaching music part-and full-time Sister Mary Bertha worked with Mission San Jose community leaders and others in the larger community to establish or improve music programs and used her boundless energy wherever it was needed. Her final ministry was that of prayer.
Survivors include her two sisters, Mrs. Dorothy Rahm and Mrs. Marcella McBride, and their families.
The funeral Mass was held Jan. 25 at the Dominican Sisters Chapel in Fremont and burial was in God's Acre, the Dominican Sisters cemetery.
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