Sister Clare at 100!
As I celebrated the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury this morning I remembered in a special way Sister Clare Meyer who died in December of 2008 at the age of 101, her mind still very vibrant.
It was on this date in 2003 that I received Sister Clare into the full Communion of the Catholic Church. All her life, she had been a dedicated Episcopalian and had joined an order of nuns of the Episcopal Church in 1953 and belonged to the Episcopal Convent of St. Helena since 1962.
Her convent was in the neighborhood in which I grew up in South Augusta. As a 9 year old in 1962, my friends and I would trespass on their property and go into an old barn they had. We'd have a great old time! The sisters, we called them Protestant Sisters, would come out after us and tell us to leave and that they would call the police if we came back.
In 1991, I became pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta. The first Saturday night Mass I had I noticed this Episcopal nun there, Sister Clare. I thought to myself, she knows I'm the one who trespassed on her property and now she's going to get even with me!
But in fact, she had been attending Most Holy Trinity for a few years. She did not agree with women priests in the Episcopal Church and her convent had a few sisters who were priests and they would celebrate the Episcopal Eucharist and she simply couldn't not attend in good conscience.
Of course she could not receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, but dutifully she came each Saturday and sometimes during the week. Around 1998 I asked her what she believed about Holy Communion and found out from her that she was more Catholic in the faith than most of our life-long Catholics. So I asked Bishop Boland for permission for her to receive Holy Communion at Most Holy Trinity given her peculiar situation and he granted the request. So from 1998 until 2003 she received Holy Communion by way of a special indult from Bishop Boland.
Then she asked to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and she was on May 27, 2003. I worried about how the Episcopal Sisters would treat her and if they would kick her out of the convent. But they accepted her and cared for her until her last breath in 2008 at the age of 101.
All the sisters of this Episcopal Convent attended her funeral Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and I was invited to preside.
The following is a short story on Sister Clare from the Augusta Chronicle as she turned 100 years old:
ONE HUNDRED YEAR OLD NUN