You are here

Our Story

photo of Dominican statue

“Mary Magdalen went and announced to the disciples,
 ‘I have seen the Lord!’”  Jn 20:18

Appearing to Mary Magdalen, Jesus sent her to the community to tell the good news of his resurrection. We, too, are sent to go forth and tell others the good news of God’s love

Beginnings

Dominic de Guzman
When Dominic de Guzman (1170 -1221) founded the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, at the beginning of the 13th century the world he knew was in turmoil. Europe's agrarian population was shifting to urban centers, creating waves of change that affected all of life, including economic and social relations, politics and religion. Universities established in these new urban centers were attracting the interest of the new generation and the attention of Dominic as well.

Dominic's passion became the centerpiece of his way of life -- to preach the gospel wherever its good news needed to be heard. He created the vision of an itinerant Order that would go wherever people needed to hear the good news. He also believed that for this preaching to be authentic the preachers needed the support of a communal life where they could pursue constant prayer and a mendicant life, begging for the needs of the community and for the words needed for preaching. Dominic believed this gathering itself would be a holy preaching. In every generation since then others have followed this same path and it is in this sense that Dominic's charism is a living tradition.

According to the tradition that has been passed on from those who knew Dominic, he was a joyful friar. Wherever he went, he conveyed an enthusiasm for the gospel. People found this inviting because it offered them hope. Dominic shared his intense desire to know God more deeply, and his own devotion to prayer and study gave witness to this.  (Source: excerpt from Dominic's charism, Dominican Foundations series; domlife.org).

Journey to California
Mother Pia with orphansAmidst the rapid influx of immigrants in the city of San Francisco in the late 19th century, San Francisco’s first Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, a Dominican priest, wrote to the Dominican Sisters of Holy Cross Convent, Brooklyn, New York calling for sisters to come teach the immigrant children of these newly arriving families. Three young sisters were sent to respond to this call: 24-year old Maria Pia Backes, 17 year-old Amanda Bednartz, and 21 year-old Salesia Fichtner. The sisters arrived in San Francisco on November 11, 1876 to begin the mission of education that would become the Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Queen of the Holy Rosary (Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose).

Within two weeks the sisters enrolled 40 diverse, immigrant children in their new St. Boniface School. Mother Pia’s persistence and faith “In God Alone” led her to found schools and orphanages along the Pacific coast and eventually to spread across U.S. borders into Mexico, Germany, and Guatemala.

Today
photo of Sisters in prayerFollowing our founder Dominic, we embrace our life in community shaped by the Gospel counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, prayer, study and ministry. We use our gifts for the preaching mission through evangelizing, educating and promoting peace and justice. We commit ourselves to a contemplative lifestyle that supports all we are and do. We live our religious life in the context of community where we are strengthened by our prayer, supported by our relationships with one another, and energized for our ministry.

Honoring our foundress, Mother Pia Backes, who’s heart was committed to serving "the young, the poor and the vulnerable," our sisters work to bring forth the good news of the Gospel in the United States and Mexico in schools, parishes, universities, and other settings.

Global impact
We are part of an 800 year-old order founded by St. Dominic, which world-wide includes 176,000 Dominican brothers, sisters and lay leaders, friars and nuns serving in 116 countries.