Grace, providence and my new job

10 Aug

“Providence.” That’s how Sister Mary Kieffer, OP, explained it.

The moment that word left her lips, I knew it was exactly the word I was seeking, had been struggling to put my finger on, but had yet to identify. The explanation. Providence.

Sister Mary is a member of the community of Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. She works in the Spiritual Care department of Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., where I just accepted the position of director of marketing. Saint Mary’s, now part of Catholic Healthcare West, was founded in 1908 by the Dominican Sisters.[tweetmeme source=”KateEGrey” only_single=false]

From the very beginning of my journey toward this specific job, which I begin Aug. 23, I had a sense that this was meant to be, that I was going to be at Saint Mary’s for a reason – a reason beyond my background and abilities.

One of those reasons is my connection to the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. I am an alumna of one of their high schools, Saint Rose Academy, once the oldest private girls’ school in San Francisco. Saint Rose was a happy, formative place for me, although I had a different background from the typical girl there: I’m not Catholic, and had not progressed through the parochial elementary schools of San Francisco like just about every other student. Well, technically I did, but it was a Lutheran school, not Catholic.

Drawing of Saint Rose Academy

Saint Rose's building on the corner of Pierce and Pine was destroyed in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

My once-lovely high school was “killed” in the great Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco in 1989. The stately white building, which was located on the corner of Pierce and Pine streets, was damaged so severely it had to be closed. And sadly, the demographics and economics of San Francisco did not support the Sisters rebuilding or even continuing. The students were folded into the Jesuits’ St. Ignatius College Prep, formerly an all-boys school, and the site became a parking lot for St. Dominic’s Church next door.

I didn’t know until recently that there was anything left of Saint Rose, when I discovered this online trying to reconnect with classmates:

… a remnant of St. Rose Academy can still be found in Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto—but the beloved shrine barely survived the wrecking ball. Sitting amidst the rubble that surrounded St. Rose Academy following the 1989 earthquake, the grotto gradually became overgrown by the gnarly decorative vines that surrounded it. Crews that arrived to demolish the damaged school were about to bulldoze the overgrown mound when St. Dominic’s Father Martin Walsh realized what was happening and hurried to the site to throw himself in front of the bulldozers and save the shrine. Thanks to his rescue, it remains intact to provide a peaceful oasis rising amidst the asphalt of today’s parking lot.

When I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I felt drawn to visit the grotto, which indeed is a lovely oasis surrounded by small plantings.

As I sat in reflection among the lavender and roses, I noticed a hummingbird hovering nearby. At first, I purely marveled at its beauty, and at seeing one in the city in the middle of a parking lot. Several days later, though, I was hit with a realization that it really meant something else.

It was grace.


5 Responses to “Grace, providence and my new job”

  1. Sister Mary Kieffer August 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank you, Kate, for sharing your beautiful thoughts regarding your journey to St. Mary’s regional Medical Center in Reno. We are truly blessed to have a “Rosebud” at the helm of our marketing department.

    Grace to you and peace,
    Sister Mary

    • Kate Grey August 21, 2010 at 11:37 am #

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sister Mary.

  2. Mary August 23, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    How did I miss this news?! Regardless, congratulations Kate!

    • Kate Grey August 23, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

      Oh, no worries, you’re not late to the party! Today was actually my first day on the job. Thanks Mary. Hope providence shines on you too soon.

  3. Marci Hooper August 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm #


    I stumbled across your article while looking for the sketch of St. Rose. I graduated in 66….. And oddly enough, I was quite familiar with St. Mary’s, as my Grandmother’s first cousin, Catherine Murray AKA Sister Seraphine, was at St Mary’s for over 50 years! She was a little thing, but she could move mountains. We used to go see her while on vacation, and all 5 of us kids were happy to go, because hew was such a sweetie. I remember Olive & Egg sandwiches in the convent garden, and Ice cream cones for dessert. When Seraphine was in Reno 50 years, they had a dinner in her honor, and by the time I found out about it it was sold out–such was her rep. She was in Reno before Gambling was legal…… When they were trying to sort out the fate of St. Rose, I went through it with Sister Rose Sanguinetti….. I brought the photos to a reunion & they are probably lost in a convent somewhere, but Sister Rose & I had a great time from the attics to the boiler room. my kitchen stool came from the biology lab… I have a bit of it. And, like you, I am pleased that the grotto remains. Best wishes.

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