Finding God in all things calls us to community in diversity, strength of character, academic excellence, kinship with creation, social justice, and joy.

The O'Dowd Advantage

Each year, I talk with hundreds of O’Dowd students, parents, alums, and applicants about the advantages of an O’Dowd education.

The fast facts and student quotes featured here demonstrate that O’Dowd is a top college prep, Catholic school that nourishes skilled, joyful, creative and entrepreneurial students in an enriched, challenging, and diverse environment. Our school is truly unique.

From the strength of our professional faculty and staff to our personal care and moral guidance, we add priceless value to the everyday development and future growth of our students.

Interested in fast facts and a good overview of the school?

Download the O'Dowd Advantage »

Stephen Phelps, Ed.D.

Charism? What’s that?

Strictly speaking, a "charism" is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Greek, plural: ‘charismata’). In Catholic usage the word is often applied to a particular group or religious "order" and specifically to the "gift" that the order is to the larger church/world. Synonyms for the word "charism" might be: vision, calling, focus, spiritually inspired core values, gospel values. The rendering that has been helpful to many is "operational spirituality," a term which describes well what a "charism" should do for a community: animate and inspire all of its programs, activities, groups.

What is our Charism?

Finding God in all things calls us to
Community in Diversity
Strength of Character
Academic Excellence
Kinship with Creation
Social Justice
and Joy.

A charism statement might be a list of core values, such as the following from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, "There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separated finger on the fist. Anyone individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable." Good charism statements are also creative and visual (fingers making a fist). The LaSallian schools articulate their charism with a five-pointed star, each point representing a core value (faith in God’s presence, quality education, respect for all persons, inclusive community, concern for the poor). Other charism statements include Latin terms, such as "magis" (more) and "cura personalis" (care of the person) for the Jesuits. Some include powerful religious images, such as the Daughters of Charity recalling that "the person you are feeding is Christ himself."

Implementation of the O'Dowd Charism

The work of bringing the O'Dowd charism to life is ongoing! Each year the school community discerns and then implements strategies for nurturing and building the sense of ownership of the charism among all O'Dowd constituencies and programs. In 2010-11, the charism emphasis was "Strength of Character." Each year, school and student leadership strives to achieve the vision of an O'Dowd community enlivened, challenged and animated by the spirituality and values of our charism. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we work to ensure that the core values of our charism live in every member of our community.


Bishop O’Dowd High School is a Catholic, coeducational, college preparatory high school administered by the Diocese of Oakland. The school affirms the teachings, moral values, and ethical standards of the Catholic Church. It is a unique and diverse community. The faculty and administration strive to develop young men and women of competence, conscience, and compassion through an integrated academic, spiritual, and extra-curricular program. Bishop O’Dowd High School seeks to develop leaders of influence who are loving, open to growth, religious, intellectually competent, and skilled leaders committed to justice and peace.


Bishop O'Dowd is a coeducational, college preparatory Catholic high school sponsored by the Diocese of Oakland serving the diverse range of students in Oakland and surrounding communities. Our integrated academic, spiritual, and extra-curricular programs develop exemplary graduates who communicate Christ to others by their lives and enrich society with Gospel values. Our school is a partnership of students, staff, parents, the community, and the Diocese of Oakland.

As a Catholic high school, Bishop O'Dowd challenges and encourages all members of its community to be loving and rejoice in our diversity. While giving preference to Catholics, we welcome students of all faiths who embrace our mission and are willing to contribute to it. We have rooted our educational mission in our Catholic heritage so that our graduates will care for creation and live extraordinary lives dedicated to building a moral, just and peaceful world.

2013-2014 Board Of Regents

Kerwin Allen
David Bail
Tracey Borst
Kevin Coldiron
Thomas Counts
Jeannette DeLaGarza
Fr. Leo Edgerly
John Heagerty
Glen Hentges
Kevin Kelly
Ellie Knauss
Anthony Mar
Fr. Jay Matthews
Alan McIntosh
Glenele Oberrich
Mary O'Connell
Christopher Ohman
Michael Robarts
Roderick Roche
Shonda Scott
Edward Vieira-Ducey
Kimberly Walsh
James Wolfe

School Accreditation

Bishop O'Dowd High School is fully accredited by the Western Catholic Education Association and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WCEA/WASC) through 2020. During the 2013-2014 school year, the school community completed a full self-study that included a living strategic action plan to guide our community through 2020.

The key components of this study with the Strategic Plan/Action Plan were submitted to the WCEA/WASC Accrediting Commission. The WCEA/WASC accreditation renewal process included an on-campus visit by a six-member team in 2014. The team's four-day study resulted in a report to the school community. In 2014, the Accrediting Commission reviewed our report along with the findings of the visiting team and granted a full six-year term of accreditation through June 30, 2020.

To ensure our strategic plan is vibrant and achieved, we will continue an ongoing yearly process to review the plan and ensure the achievement of its goals.

Current education improvement plan 2014-2020 »

School Administration

Stephen Phelps, Ed.D.

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Pam Shay,

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Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Jeanne (Jan)

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Director of Admissions
Kerryn Pincus

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Chief Financial Officer
Chris Garavaglia

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Chief Information Officer
Romeo Baldeviso

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Athletic Director
Mike Bowler

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Press Contacts

Director of Communications

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Web Master/Videographer
Donovan Rittenbach

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Finding God in All Things

9500 Stearns Ave | Oakland, CA 94605 | Phone: (510) 577-9100 | Fax: (510) 638-3259