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placeholder April 25, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA

The Dominican Sisters led their guests in singing "All Are Welcome" at the dedication.

Dominican Sisters, friends bless new home, center

The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose opened the doors to their new home to donors, friends and community members on a sunny St. Joseph's Day, March 19, in Fremont, as they celebrated the completion of the new Dominican Center and St. Joseph Residence.

"What a joy it is to welcome you in the name of each of our Sisters," said Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP, prioress of the community, "to this glorious moment.

About the project
What: 36-unit residence and center
Cost: $22.2 million
Green Building Council Gold building
Recycled: More than 95% of construction debris.
Source: Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
"Today we gather to bless and celebrate the completion of this major construction project," she said. "Many communities are gathered as one today," she said, welcoming those in the church community, leaders in the city of Fremont, health partners Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay and On Lok health care services for seniors. "You have blessed us with your skills, project expertise and commitment," she said of building and planning partners.

"St. Joseph became our patron when we arrived here in 1891," she said, with the saint becoming "our protector, our companion and our beloved saint."

His feast day has marked milestones in the project: On March 19, 2013, his protection was invoked as the project began, with demolition of the old St. Joseph Priory Building. A year later, ground was broken for the new building. Each time, the Sisters prayed for the protection of the workers; many of those workers joined in the celebration.

Sister Rose Marie Hennessy, OP, motherhouse administrator who served as the community's leader in the project, said the process was "a learning experience for the Sisters."

"This particular building effort has been an ever-widening sense of community," she said, acknowledging the Dominican leadership; development; Barker Wagoner architects; Hillhouse Construction; and the "skills of so many trades."

The Most Rev. John S. Cummins, bishop emeritus of Oakland, in blessing the project, called the festivities "a day of thanksgiving, and jubilation" and the work "successful in its design and accomplishment."

Guests were welcomed into the three-wing structure, and visited the community arts and exercise rooms. The Sisters opened their doors to their rooms, chapel and living areas.

But before they crossed the threshold, guests were invited to take an olive branch from wicker baskets the sisters offered. The branches are from the sisters' olive trees, which date back to the Mission days, and were blessed by their chaplain, Rev. Carl Seewald, SVD. Guests were asked to "bless our home" as they walked through the home and center.

The completion of the Dominican Center and St. Joseph Residence opens the door to additional opportunities for retreats, Sister Rose Marie said later. With about three dozen sisters at home in the new residence, space has opened in other buildings on the motherhouse grounds to offer retreats sponsored by the sisters, as well as hosted retreats.

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