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Dominican Charism

St. Catherine’s Academy was founded in 1889 by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. The Dominican Sisters continue to own and operate the school as one of the Congregation’s three sponsored schools. From our earliest days, the Dominican charism has influenced everything that we do at St. Catherine’s Academy.

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

 -Saint Catherine of Siena, Dominican Saint and Patron of St. Catherine's Academy

Dominican Order


The Dominican Order is a Roman Catholic religious order, consisting of priests,

nuns, sisters, and lay people. It is best known for its commitment to holistic

education and the pursuit of truth (Veritas). Dominicans are preachers, meaning they spread the Gospel through words and actions. In fact, the Dominican Order is also known as the Order of the Preachers. The Dominican Order was founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in 1219.

Sisters from St. Catherine’s Academy are members of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose based in Fremont, California. This congregation was founded in 1876 by Mother Maria Pia Backes, OP to serve “the young, the poor, and the vulnerable.” Today the congregation is made up of 195 Dominican Sisters who live in northern and southern California and seven communities in Mexico.

Today, Dominican Sisters at St. Catherine’s Academy hold positions in school administration, teaching, and resident care. Eleven sisters work or live on campus and have daily interaction with our students.

Dominican Pillars

The four Dominican Pillars are community, ministry (service), study, and prayer. These are the standards of life that Dominicans live by. St. Catherine’s Academy is built upon these pillars, creating a faith-filled community where students of all faiths are able to grow in their personal spirituality.


The pillar of community is emphasized by our military and Catholic traditions. In fact, many cadets list "brotherhood" as their favorite aspect of St. Catherine's Academy. SCA students learn to work together, rely on each other, and help one another. They form lasting bonds.

Examples of Community at SCA:

  • Students and staff pack the gym to cheer on the basketball and volleyball teams.

  • Cadet officers make sure all other students have lunch before eating to show a focus on others.

  • Local students welcome international students to share holidays and weekends in their homes.

Ministry (Service)

The pillar of ministry comes to life through community service. Throughout the year, students participate in a variety of service activities and fundraising drives to support the less fortunate. SCA cadets learn to share their gifts and talents with those around them, especially those in need.

Examples of Ministry at SCA:

  • Each military company adopts a local charity and collects non-perishable items to help those they serve.

  • The Color Guard presents colors at special events for many local nonprofits and civic organizations.

  • Students learn about Friedreich's Ataxia, American Heart Association, and breast cancer and then run for a cure during our annual jog-a-thon fundraiser.


The pillar of study revolves around Veritas, a Dominican motto meaning truth. SCA students learn to seek truth through an outstanding educational program that encourages curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking.

Examples of Study at SCA:

  • Students in our Early Childhood Program utilize technology to practice math skills.

  • Middle school cadets teach scientific concepts to younger students on annual Science Day.

  • Approximately 50% of students study a musical instrument.


The pillar of prayer is woven throughout all dimensions of school life. From formal prayer, such as morning prayer and weekly Eucharist, to more informal experiences, such as military cadences that call on Dominican saints, SCA cadets learn that prayer is relevant in a variety of situations.

Examples of Prayer at SCA:

  • 8th graders participate in a retreat led by our Dominican Sisters.

  • The entire school community comes together for Eucharist each Friday.

  • Students pray a decade of the Rosary each day at morning formation during October, the month of the Holy Rosary.

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