Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Requiescat in Pace: Sr. Clare, OSH
Some of you may have known one of the sisters of the Order of St. Helena, Sr. Clare, who turned 101 on Thanksgiving Day.
I have received word from Sr. Ann Prentice, OSH, who writes that "Sr. Clare died this past Sunday morning while her sisters were gathered around the altar for Communion."
I have excerpted some of what Sr. Ann writes of Sr. Clare, which shines as witness to the One who is come to us as The Light of the World.
"The Hospice nurse on duty came to the chapel to get Sr. Elsie to come--Elsie had been Clare's helper for several years, reading to her, helping her dress and move about with her walker. Clare had macular degeneration in both eyes but her mind was fine; Elsie has frontal lobe dementia, but she's very fit and has no problem reading--she reads the lessons in Chapel, and keeps up with our prayer services with no problem. She still makes her famous chocolate chip cookies and puts out breakfast every morning. Elsie is 84 or 85, and is now the oldest sister, chronologically.
"Clare converted to Catholicism in 2000. She never could accept within herself that women should be ordained, but she didn't try to hinder our sisters who are priests (about 1/3 of our Order). She wanted to continue to live with us and to wear her cross and ring, which are the visible symbols of the religious life, and to be buried here in the convent cemetery--a circle of dogwood trees with Easter lilies in the ground--at the edge of the woods on our property (note: in Augusta, GA). Two other sisters are buried there. She always loved our Chapel here, which is open to the natural surroundings, and, although she said she couldn't sing, she was always present for our four daily Offices, and until 2000 she would receive Communion with us when we had a male priest presiding at the Eucharist.
"Most people did not know she was no longer an OSH Sister (legally she couldn't be when she joined the R.C. church because they are not "in communion with the Episcopal church"), but we included her in every way except that she couldn't vote in our elections. It is the end of an era. The stories we'll be telling should be written down!
"Her two sisters are still living--one 96, the other 92.
"There will be a Requiem Mass for her tomorrow (Thurs) at noon at the Roman Catholic church which she attended up until a week ago, at which we sisters (and others who are not Roman Catholic) will not be able to receive Communion, BUT two of us have been invited to read the Lessons and two other sisters will bring forward to the altar the bread and wine for Communion. It's a first, and a generous acknowledgement of her more than 50 years' vocation as an Episcopal nun.
Please pray for us."
I am covetous of your prayers for Sr. Clare and for her sisters and family who grieve her loss. May they receive the comfort of their faith.
May the gracious, generous spirit of accommodation which marked the life of Sr. Clare, her sisters and her church family inspire us to follow The Wisdom of The Christ.
+ May the soul of Sr. Clare, and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory.