October 17, 2018 — Last week we quietly closed the Dominican Sisters $23 million capital campaign, which was the largest undertaken in the congregation’s history.
Major milestones are easy to recall. In 2011, fund raising began. In 2012, a Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation grant challenged the Sisters to match their lead gift. In 2014, we broke ground and launched construction. In 2016, on the March 19th Feast of St. Joseph, we dedicated the new 36-unit St. Joseph Residence and Dominican Center. Achieving each milestone has been a journey rather than a single event, yet the multi-year effort closed when a single, skilled craftsman installed the custom donor display in the Dominican Center lobby.
The three-dimensional display is a simple list of 102 names inscribed over a natural palette of Mission San Jose colors, reflecting the Motherhouse sky and hills. Gabriela Silva-Lecca designed the display in consultation with Sister Diane Bridenbecker (pictured on homepage alongside Margaret McCarthy). Barker Blue, a Bay Area graphics and branding firm, produced and installed the final display near the portrait of our foundress, Mother Pia Backes, painted by Gereon Rios, a renowned artist and sculptor.
We devoted considerable time to creating the donor display because we believed it is more than a list of names. It is a collection of stories that tell of sacrifice, faith and affirmation of the Dominican Sisters and their mission. One name on the list acknowledges a man of modest means who gave his entire retirement portfolio to the Dominican Sisters when he learned of plans to build a residence for the Sisters. Another identifies a woman who left religious life, yet upon her death gave all she had earned and saved to support the congregation she entered and served as a young teacher.
The list identifies transformational gifts made by donors who endorsed a project even though it appeared beyond the reach of a congregation of women founded to serve the young, the poor and the vulnerable. The list includes married couples, families and foundations. It honors the wishes of many donors who asked to remain anonymous even though their instrumental gifts helped this project.
The display affirms the influence of individual Sisters who taught children, touched lives and shaped career paths. These stories include a final unexpected gift that arrived near the end of the campaign, allowing the Sisters to pay the last construction invoice and complete their project “in the black.”
This is a wall of stories, sacrifice and celebration. When we view each name, we give thanks, smile and remember, as we consider what can be accomplished by God’s grace and the good will of many whose names are not listed but are held in our hearts and prayers.