(from the website of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Kingstanding)
Sr Mary Clare was born on 29 November 1929 in West Bromwich. Her father was a printer and was profoundly deaf, as were his two children, Leo and Doreen Mary, who later became known as Sister Mary Clare. After leaving school at the age of 17, she embarked on a nursing career at the Birmingham Orthopaedic Hospital, later undertaking general nursing and becoming a District Nurse. During the ten years she spent on the district, she worked in Rednal, and it was during this time that she came to know the Fathers of the Oratory, through providing care for one of them. Her last job was at the Orthopaedic Hospital and it was at this time that she received her call to religious life. She entered the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) in Oxfordshire in 1974 and was professed in life vows in 1978. She had various assignments in that Community – caring for elderly Sisters, involvement in the deaf community and in hospital chaplaincy.
As she had long been drawn to the Roman Catholic Church, she decided at the age of 83 to be received as a Catholic on 1 January 2013 when we were all received. She formed part of the new Community, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and moved with us to our monastery in Kingstanding.
At Kingstanding Sr Mary Clare embraced the new life with enthusiasm but her physical health was slowly deteriorating. She was in hospital in December 2013 for three weeks, being discharged just in time to be part of our erection as a new Institute of Consecrated Life on 1 January 2014 when we all re-affirmed our vows under the Benedictine formula.
From that time on, however, she needed the help of daily carers. As time progressed, she needed more care than could be provided at the monastery and she moved to a Care Home just two weeks before she died. On Wednesday 8 July, the Care Home phoned to tell us that she had been taken into hospital for what was thought to be precautionary routine investigations. Then, the following evening at 10pm, there came a call from Sr Mary Clare’s hospital doctor for Mother Winsome, to say she had suddenly and seriously deteriorated.
Mother arrived in time for Sr Mary Clare to know that she was there and she remained with her throughout the night, praying with her. The Catholic chaplain was called and she received the Last Sacraments before she died at around 2.45am on Friday 10 July, with Mother praying beside her. As Blessed John Henry Newman, to whom Sr Mary Clare was devoted, said, ‘Oh my Lord and Saviour, support me in that hour in the strong arms of Thy Sacraments, and by the fresh fragrance of Thy consolations. Let the absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me … [may I] die, as I desire to live, in Thy faith, in Thy Church, in Thy service, and in Thy love’. So was fulfilled the desire of Sr Mary Clare’s heart, ‘to die a Catholic’.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for her.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.