St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception became a parish in the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1912, nearly 42 years before St. Mary School opened its doors. By 1950, the parish had approximately 1,000 families. By 1954, there were 627 children of school age or pre-school age in the parish. Then San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty called the building of the school “an act of faith, of sacrifice and cooperation”. The Most Rev. Hugh A. Donohoe, auxiliary bishop, dedicated the first school building on October 10, 1954 with Rev. Peter Doherty as its pastor and SNJM Sister Arthur Mary (Gemma Fisher) as its principal.
Today, St. Mary School is recognized and respected throughout the Diocese of San Jose for the strong spiritual formation and quality academic education that it provides. St. Mary School has a rich history that is indebted to the founding order of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, since it opened in the 1954 – 1955 school year.
The school continues to be humble and grateful recipients of the kindness of the Sisters of the Holy Names.The charism of the Sisters and the characteristics of foundress Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher live on in the students and staff.
To this day, St. Mary School’s core strength continues to be its community of dedicated parents, family members, alumni, students, clergy, religious, faculty, staff, and school administrators. The partnership between the school and parish is intentional and steeped in Catholic tradition, united by a strong belief in the value of educating students within a supportive and caring environment.
Sister Betty Shields
November 15, 1942 – October 4, 2017
Profession of Vows
February 22, 1963
“Teaching has been my passion, joy and fun in life. As a teacher, there is nothing like seeing the ‘light go on’, connections made, or looking into the beauty of a child’s eyes, or being part of bringing about the full development of the human person.”
-Sister Betty Shields
Sister Betty Shields (Sister Michele Theresa), began her forever journey on the morning of October 4, 2017 after a noble battle with cancer. Her life was characterized by gentleness, unfailing trust in her God and her deep love of children.
She was 74 years old and celebrated 53 years of profession as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
Sister Betty was an educator par excellence. From inviting children at Casa Maria Montessori to find their “heart space”, to the profound respect she showed to each person, Sister Betty was able draw out the best and the holiest in each child and each person she met. She was an educator of educators, mentoring numerous teachers with her wise teaching methodologies.
She shared her presence and gifts at Saint Anselm, Saint Clement, Saint Cecilia, Saint Mark, Casa Maria Montessori (3 times), Saint Stephen, Saint Theresa (Oakland), Saint Bede, Saint Theresa (Alhambra), Saint Christopher and Saint Mary (Los Gatos).
We remember Sister Betty’s love of her family, her fidelity to friends, her thoughtful correspondence, her enjoyment of camping and the twinkle in her eye that almost always meant she was up to something playful or a bit mischievous. Her artistic ability found expression in the beautiful photo cards made and in numerous pencil drawings created.