Sister Noreen Cain, 1925 – 2015

Sr. Noreen (Catherine) Cain
Sr. Noreen Cain

Sister Noreen Cain, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for 63 years, died peacefully at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland.
She lived with Parkinson’s disease for many years, and even when that confined her physically, Sr. Noreen continued to find God in the mysteries of the natural world around her and to reflect on the works of Thomas Berry and other cosmic/spiritual writers.

Sr. Noreen learned to drive at age 12, and when one of her brothers later served in World War II, she signed up as a driver to support the local war effort.  She continued to enjoy driving and traveled the Bay Area's back roads. She loved capturing the beauties of nature through photography and sharing her knowledge of many scenic spots in California with others.

After graduating from Notre Dame High School in Alameda, she attended CSU Chico and taught in Oakland public schools before entering the convent.  Sr. Noreen later received a degree in Educational Administration from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles.  For 32 years, she provided strong, creative leadership in Notre Dame elementary schools in California, the Northwest and Hawaii.  She especially enjoyed her five years at Holy Family School in Pearl Harbor and her eleven years at Mission Dolores School in San Francisco. Click on the arrow in the frame below to see Sr. Noreen share a story about her time in Hawaii.

A great believer in the value of education, Sr. Noreen later coordinated the Tutorial Center at College of Notre Dame in Belmont, and assisted students there for more than a decade.  Calm, focused, appreciative and easygoing, Sr. Noreen made life-long friends among students, parents, faculty and staff wherever she served.

Predeceased by her parents, James and Kathryn Cain, and her brother, Donald J. Cain, Sr. Noreen is survived by her brother, Rev. Msgr. James E. Cain.  She will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by her many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and nephews, many former students and friends, and her Sisters of Notre Dame.  Special thanks to the Notre Dame Health Care team, Sr. Melanie O’Brien and Ann Comer, and to Sr. Noreen’s caregivers at Mercy Retirement & Care Center.

Mass was celebrated at 11:00 on Dec. 21, 2015 at Notre Dame Province Center.  Interment at 2:30 at Holy Cross Cemetery.

We'd love to read about your memories of Sr. Noreen! Please share them in a comment below.



  1. Sr..Noreen also loved to camp. When she was in Washington state (St. Philomena's), she organized those of us in the Northwest to camp at Deception Pass. What a glorious time that was! We arrived from St. Mark's with our chocolate lab Scott and our mysterious camping equipment – none of us having ever camped before- all crowded into our car. Noreen took control of setting us all up and we loved every minute of it – stories around the campfire, delicious meals, restful sleep in the great outdoors. Thanks, Noreen, for the wonderful person you were and are. May you enjoy Christmas in heaven- I know you will!

    Liz Tiernan

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