Strawberry Day

Strawberry Day

Celebration of the Holy Names Sisters ministry in California.

"This anniversary shines a light on another impressive group of Sisters, also six in total, who arrived in San Francisco at 1:30 a.m. on May 10, 1868, aboard the steamer ship Golden Age. These six women of faith — five of the women were in their 20s and the oldest was 31 years of age — had left their home convent near Montreal, Canada. The religious community sent the young women to San Francisco in response to the invitation of Archbishop Joseph Alemany, OP, who needed the Sisters to staff schools to help serve the growing Catholic population of the East Bay.

One of the Sisters aboard the Golden Age recorded the historic moment of their arrival in San Francisco with these words: "Our steamer has stolen in silently, shrouded in midnight gloom. What a glorious vision awaits our waking hour. A large city lies before us and though it is very early, there is a great bustle and confusion … everything is beautiful to our sea-wearied eyes …"

The young Sisters were welcomed at 5 a.m. by the Sisters of Mercy, who were stationed at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco. Later that day the Mercy Sisters provided the group of travelers with a treat of California-grown strawberries, an unexpected delicacy for the Canadians in May. But, when Father Michael King, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Oakland, arrived for the feast — he had been delayed because he was presiding at a Mass — he was appalled. "Wait, you can't eat strawberries without the cream. Give me a pitcher," he is reported to have said.

From that day on May 10 has been celebrated as "Strawberry Day" by the SNJM Community in California."

- By Carrie McClish (The Catholic Voice Oakland)


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