Sister Mary Claire Weber, OP, was the sixth of seven children who grew up in Livingston, New Jersey. She and her four sisters were excellent skaters who were the delight of the skating rink participants. Their mother made special outfits for them and, as they came out on the rink every Friday night, onlookers cheered in amazement.
When Sister was a sophomore in high school her father died at age 48. His death had a profound impact on her and the family. Through the prayer and sorrow she experienced at that time, she heard a call from within to enter religious life. After speaking to her mother and waiting until after graduation, she entered the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell in 1951.
She had known a few Dominican sisters where she had attended Saint Aloysius grade school. Their joy for life, dedication to teaching, and care for the students had a tremendous influence on her life, especially Sister Rita Joseph, who became her sponsor, and Sister Dolorita, who later became the Reverend Mother.
Sister Mary Claire’s life was touched by the holy in many personal ways. “One was at the end of postulant year,” she recalled, “when we became novices. As we knelt before the bishop, he called us by our new religious names. This reminded me of Jesus when he called his apostles and changed Peter’s name, commissioning them to go out and tell the good news everywhere, and so must we.”
Sister claims many other joyful moments that she has had over the years. “Moments of celebration as a Dominican sister for 67 years and I am so happy God chose me to be where I am. My most memorable moment was when I pronounced my final vows and said, ‘until death.’”
In 2001, at Saint Catherine of Siena school in Cedar Grove, the staff and students celebrated her 50th Jubilee. “At an appointed time all stood up, each holding a photo of me on a popsicle stick and sang congratulations. That really touched my heart.”
As she reminisces about her teaching, tutoring, and being assistant principal serving as dean of discipline, she constantly recounts moments of seeing God in each child. If they were misbehaving she never corrected them but would say, “Should you be doing that? Let me see God in you.”
Her students also saw God in Sister Mary Claire. A former student remarked, “I blossomed as a person under Sister Mary Claire’s guidance.”
Each day Sister challenges herself to be a better person, teacher, and co-worker than the day before, her way of bringing Christ to others. Her words of wisdom: “You can achieve almost anything in life if you believe it is good for you and others.”
Currently, in her 85th year, Sr. Mary Claire is recovering from cancer surgery at Saint Catherine of Siena Health Care Center. As a resident there, she and others will benefit from a new nurse call system if granted through SOAR. However, Sister looks forward to the day when she can return to her ministry to love, be with, and tutor students every day.