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Our Motherhouse


The Motherhouse grounds are sacred land where the Ohlone people lived for generations. Framed by rolling hills and vistas of distant San Francisco Bay, the Motherhouse  is located in the Mission San Jose District of Fremont, California. The hillside location is home to Sisters in active ministry as well as those requiring assisted living or skilled nursing care.

In 1891, the Dominican Sisters purchased the building and property that was originally constructed for St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, the first archdiocesan seminary of San Francisco. Upon their arrival, the Sisters established a day school and orphanage, and in 1907 transferred their Motherhouse to Mission San Jose. For many years, Sisters entered the Congregation at the Motherhouse where they received their formation in Dominican life and prepared for ministry at Queen of the Holy Rosary College which was located on the campus.

The Dominican Sisters often speak of  the “preaching of the Motherhouse.” They reverence their home as holy ground that includes a meditation garden, a meadow with native California plants, a community garden, beehives, and walking paths under historic olive trees. It provides a serene and prayerful setting for retreats and gatherings. For more information about how the Dominican Sisters care for creation through sustainable practices at the Motherhouse, click here.


Reserve our Space


To learn how you can reserve space for your event at the Motherhouse, please click here.


Holiday Boutique


Queen of the Holy Rosary Chapel is the heart of the Motherhouse where the Dominican community gathers for Eucharist and liturgical and personal prayer. Groups who visit the Motherhouse also experience the chapel as a sacred place for liturgy and prayer.


Rosary Building,  St. Joseph Residence, and St. Martin’s Residence provide housing for the Dominican Sisters who live on the Motherhouse grounds.  The community includes those who are in active ministry, retirement, or skilled nursing care.  The community is assisted by lay partners who collaborate closely with the Sisters to provide for the “preaching of the Motherhouse.”


The Dominican Sisters School of Music is located on the campus and provides private and group lessons in flute, piccolo, guitar, clarinet, violin, viola, piano and voice.  Click here for more information about the School of Music.


The Dominican Center provides a welcoming site to host events for both the Sisters as well as groups from the local Church and civic communities. It is the site where the Dominican Sisters promote study through their Center for Education and Spirituality (CES) which sponsors presentations and workshops throughout the year.  Click here for more information about the CES.


Queen of the Holy Rosary Library located on the grounds, is an impressive and inspiring religious studies library for use by the Sisters and local parishioners.  The library collection includes 20,000 books.  Click here for more information about the Library.  


Check this website in September for information about the Dominican Sisters’ annual Holiday Boutique held at the Motherhouse.


God’s Acre, the Sisters’ cemetery at the Motherhouse, is the burial site for the Dominican Sisters.  A special monument at the entrance lists the names of Sisters who are not buried at the Motherhouse.


Queen of the Holy Rosary Chapel

Rosary Building,  St. Joseph Residence, and St. Martin’s Residence

The Dominican Sisters School of Music

The Dominican Center

Queen of the Holy Rosary Library

God's Acre

Rosary building

Mater Dei Shrine

St. Joseph Residence

St. Martin's Residence

Sister Justina Nimierski, OP, erected Mater Dei Shrine in 1922 to honor the 50th anniversary of the profession of Mother Maria Pia Backes, foundress of the Congregation.  Focal point of the interior is a picture of Mary above the altar.  Angel heads, no two alike, are said to be models of the children in religion classes taught by the Dominican Sisters.  Scriptural verses adorn the walls.  The surrounding garden contains plants mentioned in Sacred Scripture.  The shrine was restored under the direction of Salvatore Caruso in 2017, and blessed by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, of Oakland, on October 1, 2017, the Feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.


Mater Dei Shrine