Sister Claire Hanson
Favorite movie: Les Mis
Favorite hobby: Reading or knitting
Least favorite food: Eggs
Favorite course in school: Geography, I loved learning about far-away places.
Favorite saint: Francis of Assisi
Favorite TV program: Midwives
Favorite quote: “Love the children, then teach them.” Saint Mother Theodore
Sister Claire Hanson is happy living out the Sisters of Providence mission of love mercy and justice in service among God’s people.
“I spent 40 years as an early childhood teacher and loved every day. I was fortunate to have lived in five different states during my teaching years which gave me wonderful opportunities for service, community life and making friends,” she said.
“As a teacher I touched the lives of so many little people and laughed a lot besides. I had ample opportunities to spread the message of love, mercy and justice to the children entrusted to my care and to their families by my love for what I did, my compassion, patience and quiet presence,” Sister Claire said.
“Today I continue to minister in the mornings as part of the office staff in an elementary school. I also minister through an agency that cares for elderly people who want to remain in their homes but can’t be alone. There is such a need in our society today as folks are living longer lives.
“I drive them to appointments, to visit friends, the Senior Citizen Center, shop, help prepare meals and snacks, do laundry, play cards, read, talk and most importantly listen to their stories.
“I do believe that these men and women that I minister with are safe and blessed by my presence in their homes. Their minds and bodies are kept active as we interact through the day. I am also privileged to become a small part of their family’s lives as I report to and interact with children, grandchildren and/or siblings.
“So far, each client that I have had has been happy to have a Religious Sister in their home. I have been able to listen to their fears regarding end of life, and have spoken freely with freedom and trust about reunions in heaven with spouses or friends. I am able to pray with them when they express fear and mourn with the families when they pass.
The message of Jesus
“I spread the message of Jesus as well as the Spirit of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin [the Congregation’s foundress] whether it be as part of a group in my parish community, teaching English to immigrants, singing with 5 year olds, greeting parents at the school door or pushing a client in a wheel chair around the block on a beautiful spring day.
“I am loving my ministries right now. We are all gifted differently, and I’ve been allowed to use my gifts with the most similar yet opposite in our society, the young and the elderly,” she said.
Sister Claire’s life and ministries seem to have come full circle with her childhood. She was raised in a large, multi-generational home with her parents, three sisters, two uncles and grandfather. The Sisters of Providence lived nearby. They taught her at St. Rose School in Chelsea, Mass. As a child she remembers being offered treats and cookies from the back door of the convent when she accompanied her grandfather in volunteering.
“I was struck by their warmth and kindness to each other and to me,” Sister Claire said.
It was in high school that she decided she too wanted to be a Sister of Providence.
“From an early age I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but now I wanted to live with these seemingly content and prayerful women,” she said.
“It was 1965 when I entered. In those days you left your home and didn’t know when you would ever return. It was God’s grace that put me on that train from Boston to Terre Haute.
“My novitiate days were the days of Vatican II and lots of changes were taking place: changes in our daily schedules, modes of prayer and relearning ways to live the vows. It was not always easy for me. There were many times and at various stages of my growth when I questioned my life and where it might turn. Those were the days that I definitely took a giant leap of faith.
“With the help of close mentors along with the support of my local communities at the time, I am able to re-commit myself daily to God and to the SPs.
Sustained by prayer
“I am very happy with my life and my SP community. It is daily prayer, either alone or with my local community, along with God’s grace that has sustained me these 48 years. This life has given me the freedom to discover and nurture my own gifts in a supportive environment.”
She offers the following thoughts to the current generation of potential Sisters of Providence.
“I would say that any woman who is searching in her heart and remains open to God’s call will find that there is great joy in being part of a larger group. They will find supportive and faith-filled women by their sides and abundant opportunities to live the gospel message in our world, all in the name of Providence. There is lots of work to be done in our world. Try it!”
My good friend says I’m …stubborn. It is so true.
My favorite thing about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is …the sisters I see when I get there.
On weekends I love to … have no set schedule.
Contact Sister Claire at: email@example.com