Sister Mary Clare Lewis of the Trinity OSC
August 3, 1930 – May 18, 2021
Sr. Clare died peacefully at Cairnsmore Place in Duncan at the age of 90.
She was born at St. Andrew, Jamaica, the 5th youngest child of Laura and John Lewis. She was always an athletic, bright, lively child and the darling of the family. She had a strong musical sense from her concert violinist father. In 1949 she left Jamaica to study at St. Bonaventure’s University in New York as part of their first class with women. She lived with the Sisters of St. Francis of Alleghany during her freshman year, and in 1950 she entered that community, while continuing her studies. Graduating with a Master’s degree in English she returned to Jamaica to teach high school English and Religion.
In 1961 she left Jamaica and flew to BC to transfer to the Poor Clares, then located on Haultain Street in Victoria. She took on numerous jobs and learned new skills to serve the community, not the least of which was learning how to operate printing equipment from the Flynn Family so that the sisters could do their own printing and silk screening.
She was the driving force behind the search for a new location when a move was required, and she oversaw the remodeling and additions of that building several times as was needed. She was the last surviving sister who relocated from Victoria to Duncan in 1973.
Sr. Clare was a wise, dynamic, discerning presence in our community and served her sisters well as Abbess for many years. She honed her listening skills to a fine degree, and used them kindly and generously throughout her life, even when she could no longer speak.
As interested in others as she always was, her first and foremost relationship was always Jesus. She spoke of this freely and invited others into that same loving relationship she knew so well and trusted with all her heart. When she realized a form of dementia was slowly stripping her of much of her ability, she found ways through her prayer to keep returning to what was essential, the love of God and her desire to give everything to that love. This image is of her dancing at the liturgy on the occasion of her 50th Anniversary as a Poor Clare Sister, in 2012.
She was cared for by the sisters at the monastery until she needed additional care and moved to nearby Cairnsmore Place in 2016. We were blessed to be present with her as she gently and peacefully passed into the fullness of life on Tuesday May 18th. She will be deeply missed by her community, her nieces and nephews and many, many friends. We are grateful for all those who have brought joy and comfort to Sister Clare in her final years, most especially the dedicated staff at Cairnsmore.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 am Tuesday, May 25th at St. Patrick’s Church in Victoria, the site of the original monastery. Interment follows at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria. Due to Covid protocols, the Liturgy will be live-streamed: https://youtu.be/A2HMUD6hy8c