Beginning in 1995, Sisters Martha Bendorf, Catherine Irene Thoeni, Miriam Daniel Fahey, and Guadalupe M. Johnston moved to the Santee area of San Jose, California.  The programs at the Santee Mission Center developed in response to the needs expressed by their neighbors for religious education classes, liturgies, ways to combat the violence and drug traffic in the neighborhood, and a library where children could read and the people could meet.

After Sister Martha moved to the Convent in Los Gatos, the library she started was renovated and expanded by volunteers from the Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga.  In her memory, they named the library Sister Martha’s Book Garden.  Sacred Heart Parish members Sandy Sifferman and Pam Parker, with assistance from local mothers, continue welcoming children of the area to the library.

In February 2012, the programs of the Santee Mission Center transitioned to a new parish, Our Lady of Refuge. Mass is no longer celebrated in an elementary school cafeteria but in a spacious church, formerly a Valley Christian church. There are three Sunday Masses: one for the Vietnamese-speaking, one for the Spanish-speaking, and one for the English-speaking. At the Spanish-speaking mass, Santee Mission faithful are welcoming many more Spanish-speaking parishioners, who now fill the church, which seats 1,000. Sisters Mary Becker and Guadalupe continue to coordinate the liturgy and music ministry.

Marcia Green and other volunteer nurses from St. Mary’s Parish in Los Gatos still arrive once a month to provide health services: blood pressure checks, hypertension and diabetes screenings, wellness education, and referrals to nearby clinics as needed.  At Christmas and Easter, Gabriela Lopez, children and parents from from Saint Joseph School in Cupertino bring gifts and new clothes for about 60 Santee area children, and enjoy a celebration prepared by their mothers.

The Sisters have developed, and continue to develop, lay leadership and partnership within the ministries through their mentoring and example.  They continue to serve in the Santee area, as an outreach of Our Lady of Refuge parish, with their presence, prayers, gifts, and talents.