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25th Chapter Highlights

Sister Cecilia Canales, OP is New Congregational Prioress, New Leadership Council and Mission Priorities established.

group photo of Dominican Sisters of Mission San JoseThe Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose elected Sister Cecilia Canales, OP as their new Congregational Prioress during the congregation’s 25th General Chapter. Sister Cecilia will assume leadership in the fall, replacing Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP who completes her tenure. 

Convened every five years at their congregational center in Fremont, the chapter assembly elects new leaders and identifies mission priorities. The weeklong “Pilgrimage of the Heart” held July 23 – 30, 2016, included over 150 sister delegates and participants from the US and Mexico. Group discussions considered some challenges both countries face.  The Sisters asked, “What is our mission in these times?”  Their response, “Be women of hope in the face of violence and build bridges of love and understanding between our countries.” 

Newly elected prioress, Sister Cecilia, attended Dominican elementary and secondary schools in Los Angeles. An experienced educator and retreat director, she worked as the Vicar for Women Religious in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and on the faculty of St. John’s Seminary. Sister Cecilia affirmed her commitment “to find new and creative ways to serve the young, the poor and the vulnerable, ever responding to the signs of the times.”   

photo of DSMSJ 2016 Leadership CouncilThe election culminates months of study, reflection and prayerful consideration of current and strategic realities. After selecting the Congregational Prioress, the assembly chose a new four member Council to advance the Sisters’ mission.  Sisters elected to the Leadership Council include S. Mary Suzanna, S. Diane Bridenbecker, S. Cecilia Canales, Hna. Verónica Esparza Ramírez, S. Mary Liam Brock. (photo, from left to right).


S. Cecilia Canales, Congregational Prioress, brings a rich background in education with recent ministry as Vicar for women religious, Archdiocese of Los Angeles to her newly elected ministry as Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. S. Cecilia looks forward to “growing a sense of unity as a congregation. I will focus on how we can use our spiritual formation to respond to a world hungering for connection.”   

S. Diane Bridenbecker, Vicaress, has advanced degrees in music and religious studies. S. Diane expresses her faith through music, choral direction, religious education, and campus ministry. “I consider my sabbatical and spiritual direction invaluable ingredients to my academic education—the ‘degree’ that will not show up on a diploma but is a transformational gift continues to ground the calling in my life.”  

S. Mary Suzanna Vasquez, has served as the principal of St. James Elementary School in San Francisco for the past 12 years. Prior to that, S. Mary Suzanna served as principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fremont. “With contemplative living, we can help restore what is broken in our fragile earth, be a voice for the marginalized, strengthen unity with Mexico, welcome new members, sustain our commitment to Catholic education and keep the missionary spirit alive in all things and for all things.”

S. Mary Liam Brock, has extensive experience in Catholic education with an M.A. in both education and theology. Deeply committed to urban youth, “I hope we embrace our internationality and live out of our ONENESS as we respond to Pope Francis’s call to meet at margins and serve the marginalized.”

Hna. Verónica Esparza Ramírez, serves as Director of Schools in Mexico, Principal of Colegio Robert F. Kennedy and Prioress of Cristo Rey Community in Atizapan. “I hope to continue the work in uniting the two worlds (U.S. and Mexico) and promote cultural respect and raise the value of ONE.”  

The chapter closed with a blessing of new leaders and sending forth celebration on July 30, 2016.