Sister Maureen Clare Lehmann
“ … [T]he wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead others to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3)
“This short Biblical passage is an apt one to characterize the nearly 47 years that Sister Maureen Clare Lehmann spent in the ministry of education, six in elementary schools and 41 at the secondary level. She did indeed shine like a star in the minds of her students, many of whom continued to remember her with notes, letters, visits and monetary gifts until her death at age 96,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Maureen Clare Lehmann, who died Aug. 11.
Agnes Eleanor Lehmann entered this world Feb. 2, 1916, in Chelsea, Mass., to John and Mabel (White) Lehmann. She had three siblings. Sister Maureen Clare attended St. Rose Grade and High schools in Chelsea. She entered the Congregation on Feb. 10, 1936, and professed first and perpetual vows Sept. 8, 1938, and Aug. 15, 1944, respectively. Sister Maureen Clare earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in Latin from Marquette University. She also earned a master’s degree in theology from Boston College.
Sister Maureen Clare began teaching in 1938 at Holy Redeemer, Berwyn, Md. In Maryland she also ministered at St. Clement, Lansdowne. In Massachusetts, Sister Maureen Clare taught high school at St. Patrick, Stoneham; Cheverus; and St. Rose, Chelsea. She spent 10 years teaching at Immaculata Prep, Washington, D.C., where she also ministered one year as a secretary. Sister Maureen Clare spent two years at Providence High School, Chicago. For 15 years she ministered in secondary schools in Indiana at Central Catholic, Fort Wayne, and St. Rose, Vincennes.
From 1987 to 1993, Sister Maureen Clare served as a pastoral minister or administrative assistant in St. Rose Parish, Chelsea. She returned to the Woods in 1993 and volunteered with the General Administration staff.
“Sister Maureen Clare has been described to me by three people as ‘a character.’ She described herself as “an imp.” Many remember her as having a great and sometimes ‘sharp’ wit, quick to share what might be described as ‘an insult,’ except by the one to whom it was said, who knew that sister was joking. She rarely let you have the final word, always seeming to have a comeback of some kind,” said Sister Ann.
“Sister Maureen Clare was always small in stature and very thin. Nevertheless, she commanded a great presence especially among boys, whom she admitted were her favorites, describing girls as ‘too emotional and up and down all the time.’ One sister recounted the story of a senior boy who was cutting up while in study hall. Sister Maureen Clare was seated at the desk on a raised platform. She just stood up and stared at him with her dark eyes. He called out to her, ‘Sister, come down here and yell at me, or hit me, but don’t just look!’ Another young man on whom she kept close tabs referred to her as his ‘school-mom,’” continued Sister Ann.
“And here is a little tidbit about her that most of us will never experience. When Sister Maureen Clare weighed in at the doctor’s office at age 81, she weighed 81 pounds and her weight again matched her age when she turned 83! I wonder about that two pound weight gain!” laughed Sister Ann.
“I also wonder about why in the world she wore a girdle, but she shared with some staff members that she did,” continued Sister Ann.
“After Sister Maureen Clare moved to Lourdes Hall she often stood at her doorway on the first floor and in her kind of ‘in charge’ attitude greeted everyone as they returned from church, always with a friendly touch or gesture, sometimes a quick joke. More recently, our image of her is holding a cup of coffee, perhaps for warmth more than for drinking. And how many staff and sisters would answer her call, ‘Help me! Help me!’ only to be told that she needed nothing. They finally caught on that she really just needed to know that someone was listening and that someone cared,” said Sister Ann.
“Sister Maureen Clare described as the most significant moment in her life as a Sister of Providence in this way: ‘The day I pronounced my final vows was really the moment that I responded to God’s love and to his call to spread the Good News of his death/resurrection through my religious life and through my ministry of classroom teaching.’
“I would say that Sister Maureen Clare accomplished both desires. ‘Those who lead others to justice shall be like the stars forever,’” concluded Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Maureen Clare was celebrated Aug. 16, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by one sister, Mabel Moschella.
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