St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church

Community Subscriber
Berkeley, CA
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Reviews

Parents, Sign in to post a review on this page.

St Mary Magdalen in North Berkeley will be starting a small faith group for younger adults/millenials Thursday evenings at 7:30--first meeting February 27th.  This group will meet for just 6 weeks, but is intended to create community and connections.  I know the facilitator and several participants--should be good discussions, reflections, and if anything, social justice interested.

Thank you for asking this question and supporting your au pair--I think we all need community and discussion of our spiritual lives in this difficult time.

Please contact me via my user name if you would like more information--or contact the parish directly.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2015

RE: Seeking Catholic Parish with Young Families

You should try out St Mary Magdalene ( We've recently switched from St Ambrose (on Gilman), and it's WAY more family friendly! There are lots of (english-speaking) families with kids in your age group. See you soon, hopefully! Michele

May 2011

RE: East Bay Catholic church with 'cry' room

My parish, St. Mary Magdalen, has a family mass at 9:30 that has lots of squirmy, vocal children. The parishoners that attend that mass expect lots of 'background noise', but when little ones start screaming, they do get taken outside. I love hearing the sound of the children, it makes me feel like the parish is very healthy. There is donut time after mass that served as a good incentive for my kids to stay relatively quiet during mass. It's also a great time to meet other families and socialize. During nice weather families stay after mass and the children play on the play structure at school while the parents chat. The church is at the corner of Berryman and Henry.

I have been to St. David of Wales in Richmond and they have a crying room. Joan

Feb 2010

Re: Looking for progressive Catholic Church in Berkeley, Piedmont
Please consider St Mary Magdalen parish just off Shattuck in North Berkeley. It is a wonderful blend of traditional faith, marvelous music (one mass more post-Vatican 2, one more traditional with amazing baroque and renaissance pieces), a lovely small mission-style church, dedicated Dominican priests, with a far more liberal, warm, and accepting spirit than I recall from my Catholic youth. The parish school results in many members with children, but the congregation reflects the full range of Berkeley residents. I also love the stained glass windows by David Lance Goines of Chez Panisse fame.... found community and spirit

June 2009

Re: Catholic Church for our family to join
I like Saint Mary Magdalene in Berkeley. (There is a school there called The Madeleine.) I recommend it to you because I am like you. I have my kids hitting the main points for the cultural advantages. We don't go regularly. The music is good! The music director must be great because all of these regular looking folks get up there & do a bebop / Doris Day style thing that isn't boring at all. (Bad music is derigueure in Catholic churches, right?) The little Sunday school for toddlers was cute when we went to it. A gal from the Parrish play group (meets in parks every Thursday) ran it while breastfeeding! Totally not what I was raised with and lovely. The Sunday School teacher for 1st communion is a whimsical older gal, very sweet. The classes are right after Sunday mass and there is a Playground there in the school yard. It worked for me.

June 2009

Re: Catholic Church for our family to join
I attend St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley with my family. I love the parish, the community is great. It is a Dominican Parish and the Dominicans are known for their preaching. The CCD program seems to be very good, I don't know first hand becuase my kids are in Catholic school. I do know that the woman in charge of CCD might be the nicest person I have ever known.

Good Luck. My husband is not Catholic and comes to mass with us every Sunday. He feels that the community is great and that the message is easy to take. Joan

June 2009

Re: Catholic Church for our family to join
As someone who has come back to the Catholic Church (in Berkeley) after many years away--it is (or can be) a very different experience. I attend St Mary Magdalen which is a lovely small church, with a nice community, thoughtful (Dominican) priests, and a good blend of traditional and post-Vatican 2 worship (plus good music). I can't speak directly to the childhood program, although the woman who runs it is wonderful. newly appreciative

Oct 2007

Re: Seeking tolerant, inclusive Catholic community
I have to give a plug for my parish, St. Mary Magdalen. The church is on Berryman between Milvia and Henry. The family-oriented mass is 9:30. During the school year we have a Children's Liturgy for preschool through fourth grade during the readings/homily with the kids rejoining their families for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There is a separate CCD program for kindergarten and up. The parish has a peace and justice committee that sponsors dinner for the poor on the first and fourth Sunday of the month. There is a coffee hour (donuts) after mass that is fun for the kids and the grownups. We also have a playgroup that meets on Thursday mornings. I have been in the parish for eight years and have met many very nice people. I would also recommend the Holy Spirit Parish (Newman Center) at Dwight and College. They have a great children's program and I have always found the preachers to be terrific. We don't go there because that I wanted my kids to go to Catholic school and the School of the Madeleine is excellent. Luckily, the parish has been great also.

I would suggest visiting a few different parishes to see what works for your family. I think that you will find that most Catholic parishes in this area are pretty liberal. Good luck. joan

Feb 2007

Re: Returning to the church, seeking a community
We recently moved to the bay area and tried several churches, including Corpus Christi. We really love St. Mary Magdelene in Berkeley, it's got a great and very active church community, as well as a great children's program. We also really like the new pastor Father David and always look forward to his homily. We have to drive a ways to get to St. MM but it's definitely worth it. anon

May 2006

Re: Looking for very liberal Catholic church
I understand your concerns about the institutional Catholic church. I was raised Catholic but drifted for many of the reasons you cite. When I moved to San Francisco, I literally bumped into a wonderful Dominican church and I became very active in its young adults group. Not only did I return to the Catholic church, I returned as an adult who had questions and struggles and some anger too- and found that I was welcome. I still have issues with some Catholic teachings- as do many of my Catholic friends- but it is my spiritual home, and I feel nurtured and fed by the Sacraments, the community and the exceptional lay folks and clergy I have found in many different parishes over the years. I also should mention that there are many teachings of the Church that are in fact, exceptionally progressive - for instance, the social justice teachings on immigration issues. If you are interested in a welcoming community with a brilliant, thoughtful and progressive pastor and the architecture you mention, check out St Dominics in San Francisco - their website is

When we moved to the East Bay and became parents, we discovered another Dominican Church called St Mary Magdalene in North Berkeley. (note: the Dominicans are an order of the church known for, among other things, great ''preaching'', i.e. thoughtful homililes!). Their website is We have found it to be a very warm and welcoming community. We go to the 9:30 on Sunday a.m. and hang out in the back with other parents of small (semi-noisy!) kids. During the ''liturgy of the word'' (the first half of the mass) they often have a ''children's dismissal'' where you can go with your little one down to the parish hall and they have a more age-appropriate telling of the gospel, some artwork etc.

March 2003

Re: Inclusive & Friendly Church
We LOVE St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley. We tried about 5 different churches and this is the one we settled with. It's on Berryman at Henry. Good luck!