"They whom we love and lose

are no longer where they were before,

they are now wherever we are."

~ St. John Chrysostom


Sister Thomasine McMahon (Mary Veronica)

November 20, 1922 – February 20, 2014 


I have lived a rich, grace-filled life.
I have experienced things I never dreamt of.

   - Sister Thomasine McMahon



Sister Bernice Breen (Sister Matthew of Mary)

June 7, 1930 - January 11, 2014

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Marguerite Kirk

Sister Bernice Breen, who was this remarkable woman?     

She was a San Franciscan through and through, a gifted teacher, a loyal friend, a sports enthusiast. 

Sister Bernice was born in San Francisco, June 7 1930, the second child and first daughter of Matthew and Bernice Breen. She was a true San Franciscan, always loved it and throughout her life thought of it as home. She had an older brother Matthew, was followed by twin brothers Joseph and John, twin sisters Claire and Carmel, and her youngest sister Virginia. She attended St. Cecilia’s elementary school and Star of the Sea High School, graduating June 1948.

Bernice wrote of her family, “Both my father and my mother were exceptional people by anyone’s standards. We had a very happy family life. My dad ran his brother’s company in the city. Mother was a true enthusiast. She loved the Sisters of the Holy Names very much, as did Dad. Mother was one of the foundresses of The Marie Rose Guild and I am sure one of their most faithful workers.”

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Sister Alma Rose Gaffney (Mary Ellen) 

April 24, 1923 - December 23, 2013

One of the promises from the prophet Isaiah this Christmas season is that the eyes of the blind shall see and the deaf shall hear(Isaiah 35:4). On December 23 at 11:00 pm Sister Alma Rose Gaffney (Mary Ellen Gaffney) received the fullness of this promise.  Sister Alma Rose was 89 years old and had celebrated 69 years of religious profession.

Sister Alma Rose was teacher, scholar, scientist, educator, gerontologist, compassionate minister to the elderly and contemplative.

Her earliest ministries in the community were in elementary followed by secondary education at HNHS, Saint Andrew, Saint Monica, Ramona and Marin Catholic. During her studies in the 1960’s at both Stanford and Notre Dame Sister Alma Rose was on the Holy Names University faculty and where she also served as vice-president for 5 years.

In 1976 her life work shifted as she received her Gerontological Certification from USC. Sister Alma Rose’s ministry with the aging/elderly spanned more than 20 years in Contra Costa Country, Saint Monica (Saint Monica) and in Los Angeles. Her advocacy, writing, and compassion served as a precursor to the ministries for the elderly today.

During her 14 years at the Convent of the Holy Names, she went to the local hearing and blind center and spent time reading, writing and reflecting on the Scriptures. 


Sister Catherine Irene Thoeni (Catherine Jeanne)

May 13, 1922–November 13, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Sally Slyngstad

It is both a privilege and a challenge to speak of the amazing life of our Sister Catherine Irene. Born on May 13, 1922 to John Thoeni and Catherine Mabel Culver, she was called by many names in her lifetime – Catherine Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeannie, Sister Catherine Irene, Aunt Jeanne, CI, Kitty Irene, Kitty, AJ, and perhaps more.

Sister Catherine Irene’s dad was born in Switzerland and her mom was a fifth generation Californian, born in Benicia. She was the oldest of the Thoeni children, followed by David and Margie. She describes her childhood as “living a life filled with love from our parents, family and friends.” The family first lived on 28th Avenue in Oakland and later in Alameda where her father went into partnership in a bakery there. Their home on Southwood Drive played an important role in family life for a very long time. Sister Catherine Irene attended St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School in Oakland.

Relationships were a hallmark of Sister Catherine Irene’s life. Relationships with family, friends, our Sisters, her colleagues, the people she served, as well as relationships with beauty, music, literature, the environment and most importantly, with her God.

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Sister Francis Paul Peterson (Gloria Anne)

December 3, 1930-August 29, 2013

Adapted from the reflections by Sister Elizabeth Davis

The full measure of the person is not to be found in the person herself but in the new colors and textures that come to life in other people because of her. We have all encountered people in our lives that have made a difference. Some come into our lives and it is not until they have moved on that we know that we have been touched in some way. Though many have passed through our lives, we take time today to remember, to celebrate, and even discover blessings that have come through the life Sister Francis Paul.

It can be difficult to capture the grace and spirit of any person—especially one who held her inner most thoughts close, who focused on others, sharing little of herself and who went about doing good in her own dedicated and quiet manner. Capturing the person of Sister Francis Paul is like chasing the seeds of the dandelion after making the wish and blowing away the seeds wrapped in fluff.

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