SVdP’s Catherine Center


During 12 months of residency at SVdP’s Catherine Center’s Primary Program, women recently released from jail or prison work intensely to understand the root causes of their incarceration, develop new coping skills, and reconnect with family. The women participate in emotional counseling, substance abuse rehabilitation, as well as vocational, educational and spiritual programs. SVdP’s Catherine Center’s unique holistic approach, along with unconditional love, allows these courageous women to transform their lives.

SVdP’s Catherine Center’s Post Graduate Program supports our growing alumnae population and their children in their transition back into society. The Restorative Justice Ministry site is a safe house.

Enjoy a short video to learn more about SVdP’s Catherine Center. 

If you are interested in joining SVdP’s Catherine Center, please call (650) 838-9800 to arrange an interview.

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The Boa Esperanca Project of St. Vincent de Paul’s Catherine Center
Boa Esperanca means “good hope” in Portuguese and is also the name of the small village in Para State, Brazil where Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdN was killed. This project is founded to honor Sr. Dorothy, who specialized in helping the migrants of Brazil’s Amazon region—particularly the women– pursue their education. Sr. Dorothy was martyred in 2005 because of the effectiveness of her empowerment work, which included sustainable farming practices. Her first high school graduate to go on to university was a young woman who went to study agronomy, matriculating in a Brazilian University just before Sr. Dorothy was killed.  This project seeks to continue. Sr. Dorothy’s legacy through the dedicated women graduates of Catherine Center’s first year program.

SVdP’s Catherine Center is an integral component of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul of San Mateo County’s Restorative Justice Ministry which seeks to transform the damage, pain and despair caused by crime into healing, acceptance and hope. By affirming and promoting the human dignity of each individual, SVdP works to help all those affected by crime. SVdP’s Catherine Center is a residential safe home for women recently released from incarceration. Women receive support and empowerment for their practical needs and emotional and spiritual growth opportunities. These services are provided at no cost to the residents.
The Boa Esperanca/Good Hope project seeks to fund the women of SVdP’s Catherine Center towards a successful completion of college degrees. It is based on the recognition that a meaningful and efficient path to educational success is an important step toward wholeness, viable vocation and a meaningful future for many of Catherine Center’s successful first year graduates as they take the next steps to keep incarceration behind them.

Each woman interested in this college scholarship program will be encouraged to first successfully complete their Associates degree or equivalent in community colleges. The Boa Esperanca Project will help them finance their final two years of BA completion. The intention is for the fund to supply 100% support including incidentals like books, parking, registration and graduation fees, etc.

The support can be applied to the tuition and expenses, including housing, of any college or university. Our founding partner is the small Catholic University from which Sr. Dorothy graduated: Notre Dame de Namur University. We will continue to support that connection, as we are open to other choices the women make, in consultation with the professional staff of SVdP’s Catherine Center. An application process will be open to each woman in Catherine Center’s program. The Catherine Center staff will make the decisions regarding readiness and eligibility to apply.

Jim McGarry, who along with his wife Kathy Curran is a long-time friend of Catherine Center, and is the founder of this project. The first Catherine Center graduate, with a BA in Human Services from NDNU, Summa cum laude in 2017, is Monique Jean Hunter. As of fall of 2017, there are still three women from Catherine Center in degree programs at NDNU.

We welcome your support. Checks can be made out to “The Boa Esperanca Project/SVdP” and a link to online giving can be found here. Please call Vivian Clausing, SVdP Catherine Center Program Director at 650 838-9800 if you have any questions.

Donate to Boa Esperanca

*Please designate your gift to SVdP’s Catherine Center and note “Boa Esperanca”. Thank you!