Sisters and their guests cheer as they watch workers "top off" the building,below, that will house quarters for sisters as well as a community center that will be used not only by the sisters, but by their Fremont neighbors.
All: MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
'Topping off' step on way to new day
at Mission San Jose
Construction has been going on at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose for the better part of two years now, with the demolition of outdated buildings making way not only for new buildings, but a new way of serving the community.
On June 1, another milestone was celebrated as construction workers ceremoniously "topped off" the building that will become a residence for the sisters, as well as a community and wellness center that will be available not only to the sisters, but to their Fremont neighbors.
The two-level Dominican Community and Wellness Center will provide space for seminars, art and music performances and other civic gatherings.
The wellness center's exercise and activity rooms and therapy pool will promote wellness not only among the sisters, but the community beyond their gates.
The ceremonies — two construction workers were lifted on a cherry-picker to hoist a Dominican flag on the roof, as the sisters and their friends cheered from a safe distance — included a poem.
"Topping off" represents about the midway point of construction. It should be completed by late fall. After celebrating Christmas in their current close quarters, three dozen sisters will move to the residence hall portion of the building in January.
Sister Patricia Rielly, OP, was overseeing a table covered with plywood. She invited her sisters, the construction workers and friends to sign their names.
"We'll be buried in the roof for all eternity," she said, as she handed out marking pens.
After the ceremony, the construction workers joined the sisters for lunch, which was topped off with ice cream sundaes.
The construction will benefit not just the Sisters, but the community beyond the boundaries of the motherhouse. In keeping with the sisters' call to serve the poor and people on the margins, they are opening their beautiful grounds to those in need of care.
In partnership with Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay, the sisters are awaiting a state license to open a care center for people with dementia. The city of Fremont contributed a $310,000 grant to the project, which will serve as many as 60 participants.
Ellen Cuozzo, director of the soon-to-open center, is ready to open the center. Among its first volunteers will be some of the sisters who live at the Motherhouse.
The people they will serve will be those with memory loss, which in addition to people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, will include people with mild cognitive disorders, such as the result of a stroke.
The center's centerpiece, said Cuozzo, is a garden that addresses the participants' tendency to wander. The garden, designed with nontoxic plants and dotted with benches, will provide a place for the participants to wander safely.
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