Located in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, the Priory of Saint Albert the Great is a house of formation for young men who have come to discern their vocation as consecrated religious, following the unique charism of the Order of Preachers, founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman. Seeking a life of both contemplation and active ministry, we live in community and are united by our faith in Jesus Christ and our vows to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Saint Albert’s is located on five acres, once known as Rose Lawn Park. Raymond and Winifred Perry purchased the land in the early 1900s and built Brookhurst mansion. In 1927 the estate was passed on to the Perry’s daughter, Aloha. In 1931 she sold it to Eva de Sabla, acting on behalf of the Western Dominican Province, for $65,000. That same year the Dominican curia in Rome granted permission to establish a priory on the grounds, under the patronage of Saint Albert the Great, a thirteenth century Dominican preacher, scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He is called “the Great” because he was proficient in every branch of learning cultivated in his day.
The priory was founded in 1932, following the Dominican tradition of forming young friars in a city priory near a major university. The refectory was built in 1934, the chapel in 1940, and the southern and western wings were completed by 1951.
Friars with a variety of ministries live at St. Albert’s. Some are involved in ministry to the community itself, as Prior (our elected superior), treasurer, or even handyman. Others teach at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, while others are part of our itinerant preaching team. And, of course, there are the men in formation – an eight year process which includes a year of intense discernment at our novitiate in San Francisco, two years of study of philosophy, a year of pastoral ministry in one of the communities in our Province, followed by four years of theological studies.