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January 24, 2006 > Learning more about Catholicism

Learning more about Catholicism

by Tina Cuccia

"We are religious women energized by the love of our Lord, God, committed to building communities of faith in a variety of educational ministries; women who love deeply and serve generously... women who make a difference."

As part of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, the Queen of the Holy Rosary College located on Mission Blvd., Fremont, is a two-year institution of Catholic higher education in the Dominican tradition.

The Dominican tradition offers a vision of truth and a distinct body of practical Christian wisdom that directs every aspect of the "formation" process. Formation is just one period in the process of a woman becoming a sister. The purpose of formation is to, in various ways, enable a sister to continually direct her life toward the perfect love of God and neighbor and ultimately to the salvation of all people.

Dedicated to truth, the college is a center of learning committed to meeting the diverse educational needs for those in formative programs for religious life and ministry. The school's goal is to help to develop informed and faith-filled ministers, both men and women, who are competent in conversing with society and in serving according to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Dominican charism (Christianity) of preaching.

Holy Rosary College also seeks to open a door to those interested in Catholic theology and ministry. The school offers an Associate of Arts degree and/or certificate in Religious Studies and provides many lifelong learning opportunities.

"The college offers a greater knowledge of the Catholic Church by way of theology and spirituality," said Sister Katherine Jean Cowan.

Students who attend the Queen of the Holy Rosary College want to serve within the Catholic Church and are seeking education to help them on their path. Some students eventually join the priesthood or other religious order or become sisters. But not all students go on to become sisters, according to Sister Katherine Jean. Many students, both men and women, are married, raising families and go to work everyday, but are interested in learning more about Catholicism.

It takes from seven to nine years for a woman to become a sister. Education begins at the formation level. Next there is a period of temporary vows followed by a final procession and a permanent commitment.

Classes at the Queen of the Holy Rosary College are held on a semester basis for fall, spring, and summer sessions and include the study of both the New and Old Testaments. The course, "Theology of the Vows" (3 units), for example, provides "an overview of the meaning of consecrated life in the context of the theology of grace and ecclesial holiness. Students learn about the nature of each vow and the challenge of its lived reality in the lives of religious women and men, past, present and future that leads to an awareness and appreciation of the role of the vows in religious life."

The Queen of the Holy Rosary College believes study is an integral element of the Dominican approach to truth. Through its board and faculty, the college is committed to assisting its students by fostering self-worth, enhancing spiritual and intellectual development and increasing their global awareness.

The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose is an international Religious Community with 125 years of service in the United States, Mexico and Germany. Their history began almost 800 years ago with Dominic de Guzman, who was born in 1170 in Caleruega, Spain. Dominic, filled with a profound spirit of prayer and a passion for preaching Jesus Christ, gave birth to a new religious order, "The Order of Preachers."

Dominic asked his followers to be rooted in and shaped by the word of God through prayer, study and life shared in community. Both men and women joined him committed to proclaiming the truth of Jesus wherever they were.

The Mission San Jose Dominican story began over 110 years ago. In 1876, three young Dominican Sisters were sent from Brooklyn, New York, to San Francisco to begin a school for German-speaking immigrants. Sister Maria Pia Backes, the superior, was one of those Sisters. By the time she died 48 years later, Mother Pia had established the new Congregation of the Queen of the Holy Rosary: the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. Her devotion to the Gospel, her love for the liturgy and her desire to bring Catholic education to youth, especially to the poor, shaped the spirit of this new family.

Today 350 Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose live the rich tradition of the Dominican family with vitality, enthusiastically responding to the challenge of Christian education in California, Oregon, Arizona, Mexico and Germany. The vision of Mother Pia continues.

For more information on how you can register for classes at the Queen of the Holy Rosary College please visit To learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose please visit

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