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placeholder June 26, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Senior Living & Resources

Sister Herbert has been a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for more than 80 years.

Joy-filled celebration for centenarian Sister

Sister Joan Doyle, SNJM, brought up the subject of Herby's Sherbert Shop, a local eatery, and how some eighth-graders got a sign of the shop's name and hung it on the door of Sister Mary Herbert Raphael's classroom.

"It wasn't the best joke of the year but we loved it," Sister Doyle said as she flashed a grin at Sister Raphael, popularly known to those in the room as Sister Herbert.

Sister Barbara Bray, SNJM, shared how she was just 4½ years old when she met Sister Herbert and that when a mutual friend brought her to Mass that Sister Herbert was attending, Sister Herbert insisted, "put her next to me and I'll take care of her."

"And you did," said Sister Barbara, as she and Sister Herbert traded grins.

Those were just two of many memories shared during a joy-filled celebration of Sister Herbert's 100th birthday held June 4 at Oakland's Mercy Retirement and Care Center, where Sister Herbert resides. Members of her religious community, including the provincial and other members of the provincial leadership team, joined family and friends from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond who gathered for the event.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sister Herbert has been a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for more than 80 years. In the Diocese of Oakland, the longtime educator had taught at two Oakland schools, the former St. Francis de Sales School, 1944-45, and Holy Names High School from 1952-1953 and 1959-1960. She also served as registrar at Holy Names High from 1971-1995.

One of the most poignant memories was shared by Sister Herbert, herself, when she recalled an earlier birthday celebration that occurred shortly after she entered the novitiate more than 80 years ago.

"We were supposed to give up everything that we were attached to, everything that we liked and so forth. We had that practice," she said. "I can remember that my aunts and father and stepmother provided two gorgeous cakes with scenes of Hawaii on them. Oh, they were magnificent!

"The cakes arrived. I was shown the cakes. And then the cakes disappeared," she said. "We were taught the hard way."

"So you never had the cake?" asked Sister Dianne Nixon, SNJM, a friend who was seated next to Sister Herbert.

"No I never had the cake," Sister Herbert answered.

"Why did you stay?" Sister Nixon asked.

"The Lord decided to keep me," Sister Herbert said. "I don't know why."

The birthday celebration also included a hula dance by Sister Chris Patrinos, SNJM, a professor at Oakland's Holy Names University, and the singing of "Holy Names Forever," the school song of the Oakland high school. Sister Herbert, a member of the Class of 1934, noted that it was her class that gave the school the song. The centenarian could be heard singing the song word for word.

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