Sister Catherine Clare Strasburger, OSF — September 4, 2013
Friday, September 28, 1917 was a happy day in the household of Anna (Vereb) and Joseph Strasburger. A baby girl was born. Her brother and older sisters were quite excited. The name Catherine Clare was chosen for her and she was baptized on Sunday, October 7, 1917 in Saints Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lakewood, Ohio. Catherine Clare is one of nine children.
Preceding her in death are: her parents Anna and Joseph; brothers Joseph and two who died in early childhood; and sisters Agnes Vasel, Sr. Mary Agnes Strasburger, PCC, Sr. Mary Coletta Strasburger, OSF, Mary Shimko and Helen Mazur. She is survived by her beloved nieces and nephews.
As she grew up, she was simply known as Cathy Clare. She was confirmed by Bishop Joseph Schrembs on Saturday, March 3, 1928.
Her mother’s devotion to the Blessed Mother was her gift to her family. They make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. Cathy Clare’s love for Mary deepened. It was at the shrine that she first met the Sisters of St. Francis from Tiffin, Ohio and the seeds of her vocation were awakened.
In 1944 Cathy Clare entered the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin where her sister, Sister Mary Coletta, had preceded her. On August 12, 1945 she received the habit and a new name, Sister Mary Jude, from Bishop Karl J. Alter who presided at the ceremony. She made her first vows on August 12, 1947. Mother M. Cecilia Wonderly, superior, received her vows.
Continuing her love for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin, she insisted that she be called Sister MARY Jude and if she was simply called Sister Jude, she often wryly replied with a determined, “Mary, if you please!”
Sister Mary Jude served God and her sisters as housekeeper in the Ohio missions at Miller City, Bucyrus, Reed, Peru, New Cleveland, Payne, and at the house of studies in Toledo. She cared for elderly men and women residents at St. Francis Home, was in charge of the dining room at St. Anthony Pilgrim House in Carey, and served at St. Anthony Villa as housemother, priests’ housekeeper, and assistant infirmarian. She worked at Toledo Hospital as nurse aide, unit clerk and receptionist.
In 1970, after Vatican Council II with its call to holiness to all the baptized, Sister Mary Jude chose to return to the use of her baptismal name, Catherine Clare. She is fondly known to us and to her family and friends as Sister Cathy Clare.
With many years of full time ministry in her experience, Sister Cathy Clare, in her later years, turned her energy and generous heart to volunteer service. With love and compassion for the sick, she and Sister Mary Coletta were able to spend several years together. She spent many hours at Toledo Hospital, at the Helping Hands Program, at Mercy Hospital, and at St. Vincent Medical Center. She was also a volunteer at Tiffin Mercy Hospital and a Minister of Service at St. Francis Home.
Always quick about everything she did, Sister Cathy Clare remarked at one point: “There is no time to slow down! I am doing things I had never done before.” In reference to her hospital ministry she noted, “I have learned that a listening ear is very important.”
Sister Cathy Clare humbly and happily rejoiced in the recognition she received. In 1995 she was recognized for 2500+ hours of volunteer service at Toledo Mercy Hospital. In 2005 she received the U.S. President’s Volunteer Bronze Award for her hours of service at St. Francis Home.
Sister Cathy Clare was thrilled in being a Eucharistic Minister to the sick and homebound and in having time to make a weeklong retreat each year. She delighted in the fun, learning and companionship she experienced with her local community. Highlights for her included: her Golden Jubilee celebration, her visit to Niagara Falls, visits with her family, and a large group pilgrimage to a number of Marian shrines.
Struggles and delights, crosses and joys went hand-in-hand for Sister Cathy Clare. She notes her gratitude for each of her family members and the grief and loss she experienced at their deaths – most recently her sister, Agnes who died on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. She expresses her hope for growing old gracefully and in 2010 she writes, “I am going blind with macular degeneration. This is hard to cope with.” Later she says, “I am making the transition to St. Francis Home.”
Sister Cathy Clare saw her actively retired life as the true spirit of following St. Francis in daily Gospel living. She exemplified that for all of us in living and in dying.
Sister Catherine Clare Strasburger was welcomed home by Sister Death on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 7:15 AM.
Sr. Pat Froning, OSF