Sister Camille Neubauer (formerly Sister Jude)
Sister Camille Neubauer was ….. kind, generous, patient, welcoming, humble. She was encouraging, compassionate, a loyal friend and had a listening heart. Camille was inclusive, genuine, loving. And, she liked cupcakes and named the cars she drove, said Sister Paula Damiano in her commentary for Sister Camille Neubauer, formerly Sister Jude, who died on Aug. 14, 2019, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 79 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 57 years.
Sister Paula continued: She was affirming, wise, hospitable, genuine and modeled dignity and grace. These words and statements were only some of the ways sisters, associates, friends and co-workers described our Dear Sister Camille over the past few weeks. These descriptors about Camille led me to this passage from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:4-9):
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Vera Meyer and Clarence B. Neubauer, lived in Washington, D.C., and had three children: Millie, Vera Clare, and Jack, when on Sept. 30, 1939, the family welcomed their fourth child and named her Camille Ruth, whom they baptized on Oct. 22, Foundation Day. The first three children came two years apart from one another, but baby Camille arrived nearly seven years after Jack. Camille admitted to being just a little spoiled given that she was home alone with her mother while the other children were in school.
At the age of 3, the family moved into a home on the northwest side of D.C., and three weeks later, the Sisters of Providence moved into the St. Ann Convent across the street from the Neubauers. This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Congregation and a sure influence on Camille’s vocation to religious life. She recalled that the sisters would phone over to Camille’s mother asking if they could borrow a certain spice, or a sister needed one more egg … could Camille run it across the street to the convent?
When she was ready for school, Camille was enrolled at St. Ann Parish School. It was there that one of the sisters phoned Mrs. Neubauer and asked why Camille wasn’t taking piano lessons; after all, Camille’s older sister, in eighth grade, was taking lessons. Mrs. Neubauer explained that she didn’t realize children that young could take lessons. So, at the age of 6, Camille began piano lessons, leading to a lifelong love for music.
Following grade school, Camille went on to high school at Immaculata and the close relationship with the Sisters of Providence continued. Camille’s grandmother was living with the family at the time. One morning, Camille, who was then 16, entered the bedroom only to find that the grandmother had died. Immediately, Mrs. Neubauer asked Camille to run across the street to tell the sisters to call the priest. A few minutes later, the sisters arrived at the front door, went upstairs, knelt at the grandmother’s bed and prayed. Camille was so impressed by their care, and remembered thinking that they were breaking the rules but how important it was to her family.
Following her high school graduation in 1957, Camille continued her education with the Sisters of Providence here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music education. And, it was here that she became enthralled with music she heard coming from the organ and decided right then and there that she wanted to learn to play it. And so, she took organ lessons throughout her college years. Sister Cecilia Clare Bocard became her mentor. During the summer of her junior year, Camille was to do some practice teaching and Mary Catherine Guiler became her first student and remembers Camille as a good and patient teacher. This sentiment is echoed over and over again from the many persons who have posted on Facebook.
Camille responded to the ever-growing call to religious life and so, following her college graduation, she entered the Congregation on Sept. 18, 1961. At reception into the novitiate, she was given the name Sister Jude. Her first profession of vows and then final profession took place on Aug. 15, in 1964 and 1969, respectively.
Sister Diane Mason, a band member, recalls that because Camille was a college graduate, she was more mature than many of the 18-year-olds who entered the community that year. However, Diane said she was gracious and caring and allowed the others just to be who they were. That graciousness and dignified manner was evident throughout Camille’s life.
Following the years in formation, Sister Camille began her years of ministry. So, in 1966, she received her first assignment which was to teach music at Annunziata Parish School in St. Louis. She would be teaching 32 piano students, 13 guitar students, 15 baritone ukuleles, eight violins and five recorders. Remember she was trained in piano and organ and said she’d never even held a guitar, didn’t know what a baritone ukulele was, and didn’t play the recorder well at all.
She went on to tell the story about Sister Mary Lourdes doing visitation in Brownsville, Texas, and asking the pastor to drive her over to Mexico so she could buy a guitar for Camille before the school year began. Needless to say, Camille’s summer was taken up with learning the guitar.
Sister Camille went on to teach music in Missouri, Maryland and Illinois. She also served as the Director of Music Ministry in various parishes in Maryland and Virginia, until 2002 when she was asked to be the Coordinator of Liturgy and Music for the Motherhouse community here at the Woods, a position she held until 2009. Karen Sagraves who currently works in the Liturgy Office and became a good friend of Camille’s, knew she could always count on Sister Camille’s eagle eye to proof liturgy programs. Karen went on to say that Camille understood the importance of the details of liturgy, that attending to the details makes the worshippers feel comfortable and not anxious. Another example of Camille’s concern for others … drawing them close to God through the liturgy.
Those many years of interacting with persons of all ages, prepared Sister Camille for her most recent ministry; that of hospitality minister at Woods Day Care and then Providence Spirituality & Conference Center. It was in this ministry that Camille welcomed hundreds, perhaps thousands of persons to our Woods.
Julia Lopez-Kaley, a friend of Camille said this, “Camille had such presence. When she asked how you were doing, you always knew that she really wanted to know how you were doing. She shared in my joys and sorrows when I shared them. She had an empathy, gentleness, and welcoming smile that embraced me before I even started talking.”
Sister Donna Butler said it this way, “She was so observant; she knew when people were not feeling well without having to ask them. She was the perfect embodiment of our sign ‘All are welcome’ in the way she treated visitors. I will never walk into Providence Center without thinking of her.”
The impact she has made upon visitors here will never be fully known. But, those of us at Providence Center were always certain that with Camille up front, each guest would be warmly welcomed, engaged, helped, listened to and sometimes, prayed with. Sister Jan Craven believes her religious name should have been Sister Camille Hospitality Plus … or, with the college students, perhaps, Sister Grandmother Camille Kindness.
Friday, when new students began to arrive, I remembered Camille who every year would be there to welcome and calm the freshmen and their parents. Already some of the returning students and many faculty and staff have expressed how much they miss her greeting them.
Nathan Stroup, who graduated from the Woods this past May, is one of the many students Camille touched. Nathan wrote this: “What a truly amazing woman Sister Camille was. She was the first Sister of Providence I met when I first enrolled at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the love and compassion she showed me during my first few weeks there helped me greatly with my difficult transition.
“I will always remember our long discussions we had in Providence Center about classes, but mostly about my life, my future plans, as well as words and wisdom from the beloved foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. The last time I saw Sister Camille was right before graduation when she hugged me and wished me well at graduate school at the University of Dayton. ‘This is not goodbye Nathan, as I will see you again here at the Woods. Remember to always lean and rely fully on Providence.’”
Needless to say that Camille’s absence already is keenly felt by each of us at Providence Center. Each of us there has a story or two to tell about Camille, but please indulge me with one that comes from Tiffany Watson, our Facility Manager and contact for weddings held here in the church.
“When it came to dealing with weddings in the church, I was extremely terrified. But Sister Camille offered to help. She joined me at the rehearsals and really stepped up to the challenge of showing me everything I might encounter. She introduced me to the sacristy, the lighting, the audiovisual, and the wide array of church implements I might be asked about by the priest. During my training sessions, I furiously scribbled notes as we walked through the church. But I soon realized that, as a non-Catholic, that Sister Camille may as well have been speaking a foreign language.
“After our walk-through, she said, ‘You should ask the wedding presider if he needs a cruet. And the family will probably need tapers.’ I stared at her blankly, my head scrambling to remember what these items were. Embarrassed, I said, ‘Umm … Sister Camille … what are the cruet and tapers again?’ She smiled and said, ‘The cruet is, you know, the pouring do-dad. The taper is that long, candle-lighting stick.’ We laughed as I wrote ‘pouring do-dad’ and ‘long candle-lighting stick’ in my notes. I won’t soon forget what these items are! Thank you, Sister Camille.”
Sister Ann Casper, a member of Camille’s LGU, described her as genuine in every way and as low key, not easily rattled, unobtrusively and quietly weaving her way here and there, to make sure others had what they needed and were comfortable. You saw it every day at Providence Spirituality & Conference Center, at Taizé prayer services, in our LGU, even at meals in the dining room. Genuine, gracious, caring.
Camille died as she lived: With dignity and grace, with hope and with faith. Following her diagnosis, she would frequently say that God was her first agent and her primary care provider. She freely spoke about the inner peace she was experiencing, never giving up hope but trusting that all would be well, regardless of the outcome. Anytime a healthcare provider came into her room, she would make it a point to say that her first prayer that morning was for those who would tend to her. Her reliance on Providence was strong; her faith, profound.
Sister Betty Hopf, with whom Camille lived in local community for the past 18 years, was such a faithful sister and friend, especially during these weeks of her illness. Truly, Betty, you were a blessing for her, and I know she was the same to you. Betty, she was so grateful for all you did for her. You yourself have said that Camille taught you how to live, but also how to die.
Sister Camille Neubauer took to heart the words of Saint Paul to the Philippians … Let your gentleness be evident to all. Thank you, Camille, for your gentleness … for your example of faithfulness … for your generous giving. We miss you so much. Whatever you learned or received or heard from God, or have seen in Christ – you put it into practice. And now, the God of peace will be with you forever and ever. Amen.
Services for Sister Camille took place on Monday, Aug. 19, and Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Camille in the comment section below.
Memorial contributions in Sister Camille’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Sister Camille Neubauer, formerly Sister Jude
In Missouri: Teacher, Annunziata, St. Louis (1966-68); Teacher, Our Lady of Providence, St. Louis (1968-69).
In Maryland: Teacher, Holy Redeemer, College Park (1969-72); Music Director, St. Bernadette Church, Silver Spring (1980-81); Director of Music and Liturgy, St. Bernadette Church, Silver Spring (1981-83); Director of Music, St. Francis Assisi Church, Rockville (1983-84); Provincial Councilor/Director of Music, St. Francis Assisi Church, Rockville (1984-85); Choir Director/Organist, St. Camillus Church, Silver Spring (1993).
In Illinois: Teacher, Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove (1975-80).
In Virginia: Provincial Councilor/Director of Music, St. Anthony, Falls Church (1985-88); Director of Music Ministries, St. Anthony, Falls Church (1988-91); Director of Music Ministries, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Vienna (1993-2001).
In Indiana: Coordinator of Liturgy and Music, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2002-04); Coordinator of Liturgical Music, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2004-09); Receptionist, Providence Spirituality & Conference Center (2009-19).
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