Remembering Sister Cecilia Clare Bocard
She began taking piano lessons in the first grade and organ lessons in the third grade.
You could say that music was in Sister Cecilia Clare Bocard’s blood.
Sister Cecilia Clare was born Frances Ava Bocard on April 13, 1899, in New Albany, Indiana. She entered the Congregation in 1916 and was a Sister of Providence for 78 years.
Sister Cecilia Clare earned degrees in composition and piano from the Bush Conservatory of Music, located in Chicago. She also received a degree in music education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Cecilia Clare taught piano, organ and composition at the college for 47 years. Even more astonishing, she played the organ during Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception from 1929 until 1994.
She composed many pieces the Sisters of Providence still sing to this day, including “Our Lady of Providence.” She also wrote “The Woods Wedding March,” for SMWC alumnae brides.
In 1956, Sister Cecilia Clare composed “A Cycle of Psalms,” a choral performance written in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of Providence of Ruille, France, as well as marking the 100th anniversary of the passing of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
An award-winning composer who was often referred to as “the sister with the dancing feet,” Sister Cecilia Clare received an honorary doctor of letter from the college in 1983.
In addition, she was honored by the Indiana House of Representatives in 1987 for her contributions to music and education, and was also honored that same year by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for her contributions to total Catholic education.
Sister Cecilia Clare died in February 1994. #throwbackthursday #tbt
It is next to impossible to adequately assess the qualities of Sister Cecilia Clare. She certainly had a mind that was one in a million! Her knowledge of music and her skill in producing it by composition and performance were amazing. And she had the discipline necessary to accomplish her goals. She was a person of amazing energy. She also taught composition, of course; I was her student and I learned a great deal! Her knowledge extended beyon the field of music. She was well read on many topics.
In one of her later years, when she knew she angered me by something she said, she apologized to me. I have always remembered that simplicity that she showed.
I believe she played the organ at Mass the day before she died of a heart attack. This was the way Sister Cecilia Clare would have wanted to go. Thanks, Jason!
Thank you, Sister Carol!
When we were freshmen at the College in 1960, we had to attend a series of assemblies in Guerin Little Theater on manners. Sister Cecilia Clare spoke about decorum during Sunday High Mass, which we attended in heels, academic cap and gown. She disliked the clicking of those heels on the Big Church floor. To underscore the need for quiet at this holy time, she played and sang “Tiptoe to Communion,” to the tune of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” It was a lesson we never forgot. She was a marvel.
I live in a small neighborhood just south of Terre Haute. Just around the block a nephew of Sister Cecilia Clare Bocard lives with his family. When handed their young daughter a paper copy of this blog she exclaimed “That’s my aunt!”
I have fond memories of Sister Cecilia Clare during my years as an Aspirant and young sister. Her great energy was coupled with an amazing creative spirit.
When I contacted Sister Cecilia Clare for selections from the Cycle of Psalms for my wedding in 1984, she was most delighted, especially when I mentioned my soloist was Sister Marie Brendan Harvey. Sister Cecilia Clare included an autographed copy of Our Lady of Providence, one of my most cherished keepsakes from my wedding day.