August 25, 1914 – January 24, 1986
“Let not your heart be troubled; have faith in God and in me.” -John 14:1
In the springtime when the Sisters moved from the House of Studies to Marywood, Sister Patricia Clare offered a Prayer of Farewell. It began: “Once more we are reminded, as we prepare to leave this House we have so long called home, that we have here no lasting dwelling. We thank you, Lord, for the warmth and shelter it afforded us.” Those who prayed with her then were quite unaware that the words she spoke were later to become her personal farewell to a community she dearly loved. In the middle of the afternoon on January 24, Sister left the warmth and shelter of her Dominican home for an everlasting dwelling.
Her first acquaintance with the Dominican congregation happened when Sisters Mildred and Bertrand visited Ireland in 1932. A year later, following two of her sisters, she sailed to America. In her junior year of high school, she was enrolled at Marywood Academy: Frances Carroll, student and boarder, from Kathkeale in County Limerick. So great was her fondness for the women who taught her, she remained in Grand Rapids for her senior year and after graduation entered the community.
She embraced religious life with joy, serenity, a deep faith – and a ready wit. The Irish eyes that smiled generally preceded a humorous Carroll quip. From the beginning she regarded her vocation as God’s generous gift to her and throughout her Dominican years she cherished that gift.
Sister Patricia Clare spent the greater part of her ministry to God’s people as a teacher. The classroom seemed a perfect place for one with her abilities: her happy disposition, her easy laughter, her wonderful humor, coupled with the special gifts of patience and understanding. She taught for 34 years in Michigan schools: St. Mary’s in Muskegon, Marywood Academy, St. Catherine’s in Ravenna, Our Lady’s School in Chesaning and St. Mary Magdalen’s in Melvindale.
There were a number of years, however, when she was called to minister in other ways. As Sister Patricia Clare described it: “During Mother Victor’s administration I was commissioned…” The commissioning brought her into the congregations’ formation programs. While she was on the Academy faculty she was given responsibility for he Aspirants. For five years she served in that capacity, guiding, counseling, and oftentimes acting as substitute mother for the girls aspiring to become Marywood Dominicans.
In 1955, Sister was named Directress of Postulants, a position that was hers for over a decade. When her dear friend and co-worker Sister Cecile Byrne died, Sister Patricia Clare assumed the role of Directress of Novices. Many young women with her during those years of formation remember her as a gentle, caring person – “other centered”. One in particular holds this memory, a memory which summarizes well the special characteristics Sister Patricia Clare possessed: “She did, indeed, influence my life and my vocation. A kind and loving individual, she was tolerant of ‘us beginners’ and challenged us to growth and holiness. She will be missed by me and by many others who found her to be special and yet ordinary; holy and yet human; apart from and yet among us. When I hear ‘Irish Eyes Are Smiling’ I shall ever think of ‘P.C.’ and give thanks.”
The description fits well the same Sister Patricia Clare who was the Administrator of the House of Studies. She was a gracious hostess and those who came to “The House” were warmly welcomed. Serving the Sisters with love and looking to their needs filled her days. Of course, she did take time out for long walks in the fresh air! Looking back over her years as Administrator she wrote: “It has been a joy and a privilege to live with so many gracious and caring women. As the House of Studies is expected to close this coming spring, it completes another happy chapter in my life.”
The next happy chapter Sister opened – Coordinator of Personal Needs for the Sisters at Aquinata – proved to be a short one. Illness came in the summertime. Even so, “other centered” as she was, she balanced caring for her own health with caring for her Sisters. Solace and strength came from the Lord especially when she remembered a favored scripture passage: “Let not your heart be troubled; have faith in God and in Me.”
In the springtime Sister Patricia Clare closed her Farewell Prayer with these words: “Comfort those who grieve at leaving with the knowledge that wherever we go, You, God, will always be there before us to welcome us Home.” January 24 was the day of Sister’s “Grand Welcoming”.
And many are they who believe that even before the Lord said a word to her, she first said to Him, “And how are You, Love!”
Entered eternal life on January 24, 1986 at the age of 71 after 51 years of religious life
We commend Sister Patricia Clare to your prayers.