|August 10, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
| Year of Consecrated Life
Aging, the next frontier for Holy Family Sisters
The Sisters of the Holy Family continue the work they were commissioned by San Francisco Archbishop Joseph Alemany, OP, to carry out in 1872: Seek out the hidden poor who were outside the boundaries of Catholic institutions.
Their work in what would become the Diocese of Oakland began in 1911, with the establishment of St. Vincent's Day Home, where children were cared for while their parents worked. Under a nonprofit board, the day home continues.
The Sisters were also responsible for religious education in parishes throughout the diocese, including two in Richmond and Pinole, where Sister Judeana Davidson, SHF, who is vice president of the congregation today, first met the sisters.
The Sisters' service to people on the margins is reflected today in its human trafficking ministry. Involved since 2007, the Sisters not only work with the victims of human trafficking, but educate the public on how to identify human trafficking, and how to work with law enforcement that is engaged in its eradication. Sister Caritas Foster, SHF, is the lead on this issue.
With the Super Bowl scheduled for the Bay Area next year, expect to see the Sisters active in putting out warnings regarding human trafficking, particularly of sex workers, at that time.
As members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, they began hearing about human trafficking in their regional meetings, and began to explore ways they might be able to minister. They began by helping their sisters become more aware. The sisters' active peace and justice group continues to be involved in other issues, such as immigration.
Sister Michaela O'Connor, SHF, has worked with Kmhmú/Laotian Pastoral Center for more than 20 years. Most of the families live in Richmond, but often she travels with them to other Kmhmú communities in the Central Valley.
"She calls it a ministry of accompaniment," Sister Judeana said. Not only does Sister Michaela provide catechetical training, and prayer in homes, she guides the community through the social services and immigration mazes.
Other sisters include Sister Sharon Flannigan, SHF, and Sister Mario Raffaelli. SHF, who minister at St. Lawrence O'Toole-St. Cyril parish in Oakland.
Sister Aurora Perez, SHF, developed the SPRED ministry in special religious education in the diocese in 1977, retired in 2013. The heart of SPRED is the bringing together of participants — called Friends — with individual catechists, at centers throughout the diocese.
After a long, thoughtful discernment process, the next chapter for the Sisters of the Holy Family is unfolding. Since 1948, the Sisters have made their home on Palmdale Estates, with beautiful lawns, gardens, heritage houses and the motherhouse.
They will deed 5.5 acres to the city of Fremont for open space, preserving the gardens for use by the community at large. Part of their land will be sold to pay for the endowment for the preserved core area, and to build new cottages.
The traditional motherhouse will give way to cottages, where the 15 sisters will live in each household. "With our cottages we're building, we hope to model a new way of working with older people," Sister Judeana said.
The sisters have another gift to give: Show us how to treat age as a stage of life and not a medical condition.
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