Sister Joseph Clare McCarthy
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“She knew this and her life played out just this way,” said Sister Mary Tomlinson in her commentary for Sister Joseph Clare McCarthy, who died Dec. 12.
“Sister Joseph Clare was my good friend, for 21 years. I am well aware that most of you in this church were her good friends, too, and for many more years than I. Many of you were on mission with her. She was superior for some of you. She told me herself and I’ve heard it from others, she would allow the sisters to do un-sisterly like activities, like drink beer. Always with the admonishment, ‘just don’t tell.’ When telling me of these times, she’d always add, ‘we had so much fun,’” said Sister Mary.
Josephine Mary McCarthy was born Oct. 28, 1921, in Chicago to Irish-born parents, James and Johanna (Corbett) McCarthy. She was the only daughter in a family of five children. She attended St. Andrew Grade School, Chicago, and graduated from Providence Juniorate at the Woods. She entered the Congregation Jan. 18, 1939, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1941, and 1947, respectively. Sister Joseph Clare earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
Sister Joseph Clare ministered in education for more than 50 years. She began teaching in 1940 at St. Mary’s Village School in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village, Ind. Her other ministries in Indiana were at St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Andrew, Indianapolis, and St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne. In Illinois, she ministered at Our Lady of Mercy and Immaculate Conception, Chicago, and St. Alexander, Palos Heights. Sister Joseph Clare also ministered at St. Joseph, Hawthorne, Calif., and Our Lady of Providence, St. Louis.
After retiring from the classroom in 1994, Sister Joseph Clare served in ministry of care in Chicago’s Immaculate Conception Parish.
“She loved this work. As was her way, she brought with her qualities for listening, having good conversation and her penchant for laughter. Retiring to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1998, she continued her ministry visiting the sisters in health care practically every day,” continued Sister Mary.
“Sister Joseph Clare was a friend to everyone she met. It was because of that Irish smile, her gracious gift of gab and her quick wit that people were drawn to her. One time, I took her to one of my family’s gatherings. Within a short time, she had made friends with my parents. As she was introduced to so many others, she was as genuine as could be with each — and she remembered most everyone’s name. Through the years, as we visited, I’d talk about the happenings in my family. She still recalled the names of most of my siblings,” shared Sister Mary.
“Time and again as I faced the challenges of growing into a Sister of Providence, Sister Joseph Clare always listened, gave me comfort, and by her example showed me the way. She told me she loved every mission she had and let God lead her into her future. She went where she was asked and believed in her being, that our Provident God, would plan only for her good, not her unhappiness. She didn’t fret; she left everything to Providence.
“Years ago, Sister Joseph Clare told me that I was the little sister she never had. I told her that she must be my older sister as I didn’t have one. She told me that often. In the recent few years, she didn’t recall that wonderful sentiment. However, about seven months ago, as the sisters were enjoying some light refreshment, I came by and sat with all of them. Out of the blue, she told the group that I was her little sister. In the last few weeks before she died, she called me Mary, something she hadn’t done in a long time,” said Sister Mary.
“I loved this woman dearly and will miss her charm, wit, wisdom, graciousness and her smile,” continued Sister Mary.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Joseph Clare was celebrated Dec. 15, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by two of her brothers, William of Lombard, Ill., and Joseph of Chicago.
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