Sister Elizabeth Clare Vrabely
“I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us.” (Romans 8:18)
“When Sister Elizabeth Clare heard the call of the God in whose love she lived, her farewell to us was swift, silent and sure. She had just returned to her room after having used her walker as support in her journey to breakfast, the first steps of this kind in many weeks. Within a few minutes, she felt pain in her chest; she received the immediate attention of the staff who helped her to the bed where she quickly and peacefully surrendered herself into the God she loved,” said Sister Ruth Eileen Dwyer in her commentary for Sister Elizabeth Clare Vrabely, who died Aug. 7.
Born June 9, 1925, in Whiting, Ind., to Stephen and Julia Balog Vrabely, Elizabeth was one of five children. Her three brothers entered the priesthood, with the Rev. George Vrabely still serving as pastor of the parish in La Porte, Ind. Elizabeth attended Sacred Heart Grade School and Whiting Public, both in Whiting, before entering the Congregation Feb. 2, 1944. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1946, and 1951, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame.
Sister Elizabeth Clare began teaching at St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1946. Her other Indiana classrooms were St. Catherine, St. Philip Neri and Ladywood-St. Agnes, Indianapolis; St. Jude, Fort Wayne; St. Paul, Sellersburg; and St. Joseph, Hammond. She commenced teaching secondary school in 1959 at Providence High School, Chicago. Sister Elizabeth Clare taught for three years at Marywood, Evanston, Ill., and served for a year at St. Teresa, Los Angeles, as the school secretary.
In 1970, Sister Elizabeth Clare ministered for one year in the school for the physically challenged at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She spent the next two years as a secretary or office clerk at Union Hospital and St. Margaret Mary Parish, both in Terre Haute. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Sister Elizabeth Clare put her business acumen to use as a secretary, receptionist, treasurer or business teacher in the Chicago area. From 1984 to 1987, she ministered as the secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council for the Archdiocese of Chicago. From 1991 to 2001, Sister Elizabeth Clare used her talents in the Mission Advancement office (OCA), with a brief stint as pastoral associate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village Parish. Her final ministry involved assisting the Ministry of Care Team through small group discussions and reflections about the reign of God.
Addressing Sister Elizabeth Clare’s ministry in the OCA, Sister Ruth Eileen shared, “Her organizational skills were excellent, but her self-appointed and lovingly received role as dean of the OCA staff was a major contribution. She faithfully encouraged the observance of all staff celebrations and added her special gift of humor to every occasion.”
Sister Ruth Eileen continued, “Any reflection on Sister Elizabeth Clare’s life would be incomplete without reference to her witness of suffering from severe depression since the first onslaught in 1967. The contrast of darkness and light in her life is startling but real … . Depression and its treatment took a toll impossible to assess. Her death came as a welcome release from the darkness which enveloped her but did not destroy her keen perception of ordinary reality nor her deepest, though hidden, faith.”
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Elizabeth Clare was celebrated Aug. 10, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her brother, Father George, and her sister, Mary Lasics, of East Chicago, Ind.
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