Sister Marie Clare
1934 – 2015
Born: 12th November 1934
Entered Religious Life: 19th November 1953
Died: 15th November 2015
Address given by Sr Rita Dawson, Provincial Leader, at the funeral of Sr Marie Clare in Hackney
Marie was born to parents Mary Teresa and Thomas Clare on 12 September 1934, the seventh child and fifth girl of eight children.
Marie’s two brothers, Thomas and Stephen, died before she was born.
She has also lost four sisters, Patsy, Phil, Nancy and Margaret.
Marie is survived by her sister, Sister Marie Therese, who is here with us today.
Sister Marie was educated at St. Gabriel’s National School and King’s Inn Street Secondary. She had a very happy childhood and did well at school despite being a bit of a rebel! When she was at King’s Inn school, she absconded from school twice.
After school, Sister Marie took up a job in an office but Sister Mary de Lellis soon had her back at the desk to study for her leaving certificate.
Sister Mary de Lellis was a great influence on Sister Marie and her vocation, as was Sister Martha Magdalen.
It was while she was walking Sister Mary de Lellis home to Mountjoy Street one day, that Marie knew she wanted to be a Sister of Charity. They passed the tenements on the way and saw the mothers and children sitting on the steps. That was it. She decided there and then to change her life. Marie entered on 19th November 1953.
By her own admission, she found the Noviceship very hard, which was made more difficult by the unsuspected death of her mother in February 1954. This was a terrible time for Marie and Marie Therese, which of course at that particular time was very different from now.
Sister Marie said yes on 14 occasions during her life. She lived in the following communities – Basingstoke (which was her most challenging), Hammersmith, Basildon, Birmingham, Merrion, Rock Ferry, Walthamstow, Okpara-Inland (Nigeria), Chester, Roma (Zambia), Bath, Shepherd’s Bush and finally Hackney.
In fact, she has been around the world. For her sabbatical in 1996-1997 Marie did a trip around the world and unfortunately she said Marie Therese could not come with her because she would not be able to keep up with the speed in which Marie intended to take everything in. However, it was not easy for Marie Therese to get away at the same time.
Sister Marie always said she was happy in all her communities even with the many ups and downs – and there were many of them but she said she was always happy.
She especially enjoyed working with the young people as they always lifted her spirits, made her happy and filled her with new life. She loved being around young people and took them on several adventures. There was one in particular when she took them ice skating. When she got back to the Convent she was locked out and had to get in through a window!
Marie had a great capacity for living life. She fought a long and hard battle recently and was very determined to continue to get as much joy as she could while in this world. Her trips to the hospital for her chemotherapy, she said, were the most challenging, especially waiting around for long periods. Although she was not going to have a second lot of chemotherapy, in the end she decided she would try it. This made her more fragile and again she was not for giving up and held on for as long as she could.
I had many conversations with her and on my last visit, we listened to some hymns and the first hymn she told me which was her favourite, we started with today – Day is Done. She also loved Lead Kindly Light. All of these I played with her and although she was very weak, she was still trying to sing along.
Marie asked me a long time ago, when she was quite well, she said “Rita, could we ever have a glass of wine with our meal or a sherry in the evening?” And I said “Of course, is there a problem?” She roared laughing and said “we don’t have it”. I said “leave that with me”. The following evening, she sent me a text which said “woohoo I had a glass of wine this evening and it was wonderful”.
You see, it is the very simple things at times which help people’s quality of life and we must always be aware and tuned into this.
Marie loved her mobile phone but latterly she was unable to speak. However, for as long as she was able, she continued to send texts and she loved to receive texts. Marie said “it kept her going”. I have a great belief that technology helps people keep in touch with their families and friends – I see this every day. Unfortunately, Marie only had an iPad recently but she just loved it. Here I would like to say a special thanks to Mary Cunniffe who set it up with her and taught her how to use it. Again Mary, many thanks.
There were many people in Marie’s life that she was very close to and loved very much. There are too many to name today but they are here from Ireland, and Carmel her niece from Weybridge, also Kathleen and Kevin’s family from Preston.
In closing, I am sure we all know how happy Marie was and such great company with a great sense of humour. She would wish us all to continue to enjoy our lives and have the same capacity to live it to the fullest as she did.
She gave me two requests which I said I would look at and see what could be done. Marie also loved her little flat in Rockferry which my predecessor Jacinta made possible for her. When she moved in at first and I met her at one of our meetings, I remember her excitement she said “oh Rita it’s wonderful just to go in and kick off your shoes and close the door.” This she spoke fondly about to the end.
I suppose if we were to sum up Marie’s life, this is the passage that closely resembles her:
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near. There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learned from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9
Henri Nouwen said:
“We are born as fragile beings, we die as fragile beings. We all need each other to live well and to die well.”
Marie died the way she would have wished – in her own bed in the Convent with her sister, her Community and family.
We are very grateful to all the staff who took care of her.
The family wished to place on record their thanks to all of the Hackney Community for the wonderful care not only of Marie but of themselves. The fact they were able to stay in the Convent and all were so welcoming made Marie’s passing more bearable.
May Marie now Rest in Peace.