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Cardinal who is papal insider visits Dominican Sisters

February 6, 2015
Michele Jurich
The Oakland Voice

An old friend was a most welcome guest of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose on Jan. 19, as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, came by for a visit.

Particularly delighted were Sister Imelda, Sister Pia and Sister Margareta, who had lived at the community’s priory at Altenhohenau, Germany, which was closed in 2013 after 90 years of service to the Mission San Jose community.

A smiling Sister Imelda greeted the cardinal in their native language before Mass in the motherhouse chapel, with Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Bishop Emeritus John Cummins concelebrating, with Msgr. Manuel Simas, pastor of St. Joseph Parish Divine Word next door, and the sisters’ chaplain, Father Carl Seewald.

Cardinal Marx, a member of the Council of Cardinals, the eight from around the globe who advise Pope Francis on church governance, was in the Bay Area to deliver the annual Heyns lecture sponsored by the office of religious life at Stanford University.

“Today you are gifting us with a bridge of connection with our world in Altenhohenau, which has been a treasure to us for over 90 years,” said Dominican Sister Gloria Marie Jones, prioress. “It is a great gift to have you coming to us.”

In his homily, the cardinal said he was “not happy” at the closing of the priory in Bavaria. “But we have to look forward,” Cardinal Marx said in English. “I think the spirit of the Dominican Sisters here since the 19th century, coming from Germany, coming from Bavaria, was looking forward. What’s our challenge today? What can we do now?”

The day’s Gospel reading, he said, offered the opportunity for the church and the people of God, to look at the two aspects: the new and the old. “That’s also the dynamic between exodus and settlement,” he said.

“Throughout the history of the people of God, we have this great vision of going, going ahead, exodus,” he said. “Going into the new country, but also of the other: to be settled, arriving, being at home.

“You need both. Sometimes in the history of the church there’s too much settlement, being at home, being close together. I think our Pope Francis says, ‘Open. Open the doors. You’re not charged to be at home, to be settled. You have not just arrived. You must go ahead.’

“You need both, but much more important is the spirit of going, of the new.”

The land of glory, he told them, “is not in the past, it is in the future.”

After visiting the sisters in the care community, who ringed the chapel in wheelchairs, the cardinal joined those who were able for a festive Mexican lunch in the dining room.

Sister Gloria Marie showed a slideshow of the history of the community, including forward-looking initiatives such as the partnership with Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay at the motherhouse.

The cardinal’s visit ended at the Old Mission San Jose, where he received a tour from Andrew Galvan. Galvan is a Chochenyo Ohlone, and the curator at Mission Dolores in San Francisco.

Mission San Jose has been his parish home for generations, he told Cardinal Marx, leading him to the original baptismal font. Mission records show on Jan. 1, 1815, Galvan’s great-great grandmother was baptized there.

“Wonderful,” the cardinal said.

As the cardinal departed, in the rear seat of a golf cart driven by the congregational prioress, the bells of the mission – original – rang out.


To view Cardinal Marx’s Stanford lecture, visit http://web.stanford.edu/group/religiouslife/cgi-bin/wordpress/programs/roger-w-heyns-lecture/.

Jurich is associate editor of The Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Oakland diocese.

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