It just so happened that I found two interesting stories about Nuns and felt compelled to write about each one. Above is Sister Clare Crockett of Ireland. Down further I’ll introduce you to Sister Cathy Cesnick of Baltimore. Each gave her life in the service of the Lord. Each kept her word and each her vows! This week, being Holy week, for many, these two Nuns are in my heart and on my mind. You may remember news items or movies about each. My prayer and wish are that both become Saints.
I was not only impressed and depressed with my findings but I had to take a deep breath and empty my brain, momentarily. Below are my findings. My find; two women, about thirty or more years apart, in age.Their mission in life was teaching and protecting children. Two very different stories. Once I read about each life, I felt compelled to write about them. They and their lives stayed with me for many hours and I wanted to honor them, in my own way; write and tell their stories. You see, I’ve always had a great love and admiration for the Nuns I knew from my Harrison, NY., St. Gregory days.
My daughter attended St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Harrison and I offered up “much time” to her class. Now, I must tell you once you ask a Nun, Can I help out, you are lost forever! Their interpretation ‘to help out’ was unlike mine! Without realizing it, I signed my life away. But, in all honesty, the Sisters of Charity were a great group. With them I wondered, laughed and learned! And when you ask the lovely Sisters; is there anything I can do? You better be ready because now they have you in their clutches. No, I’m not complaining nor am I making fun of any Nun because once you get ‘to know them’ they’re just as loving as any other person, however, their commitments are to hard work and teaching! To be honest there is always one exception to the rule and I found it as a young student while attending Religion classes at St. Gregory’s. If you went to school with me, you’ll know immediately who she was. Sister Michael may you rest in peace. There were many a day she broke us into pieces.
However, isn’t it ironic that I stumbled over the lives of Sister Clare Crockett of Ireland and Sister Catherine Cesnik of Baltimore? Both teachers. They were the epitome of service and true love for and to their work. One life took my breath away; Sister Clare, and the other, Sister Catherine left me in deep sorrow.
If ever there was a hell-raiser, it was Sr. Clare from Ireland! As a teenager, she loved to party. She became a heavy weekend drinker! As well as a smoker and other impurities. She gave her mom and dad more than a few anxious moments. Clare always believed in herself and was well known for her statement, “I am going to be big!” She loved to dance, act, sing and her guitar was her constant companion. As a very young child, she loved to act! So, she was chosen for each and every play. It was she who would round up all the friends for theweekend “parties!” She would set her group up for travel weekends! Plenty of booze, boys and cigarettes!
She was determined to travel and she set her sights on Hollywood! The ultimate spot for ‘acting!’ She did travel alot for the purpose of a good time. This one weekend, however, she and her friends signed on for a “party” trip to Spain.
Upon approaching their Tour Bus, they were being their “rowdy” selves! As they gave their names, laughingly, and entered the bus, they were met with hostile looks and swinging prayer beads! You see, unknown to them, they had signed on to go to Spain but it was a Retreat they were going on!
Holy Mother of God! Can this be true? Yes, off she went and Clare’s life was forever changed!
She became the perfect teacher, singer of songs and a paramount guide for all whom she came in contact with. I need to back up a bit because after the Spain trip, she went home to announce that her new life was going to be that of a NUN! Her mother all but fainted away and the rest of the family remained with their mouths open! You’re what????? You, the party animal and Heaven only knows what else? They thought she’d lost her senses. But a Nun she did become! An exemplary one at that.
Sister Clare did “make it big!” She did a great bit of traveling. Always teaching, singing and being the ‘go to’ person!’ Later, in her young life, she suffered migraine headaches but she never shriveled from her work. She was a teacher, singer, dancer and always the ‘glue’ that held her group(s) together. She didn’t make it to Hollywood but she travelled extensively for The Lord. She played her guitar, created songs for her students, taught them acting and was always the first to shoulder whatever needed to be done; wherever they were!
Upon her final trip to Ecuador, Sister Clare and five of her students were brutally killed in an earthquake. Her remains were returned to Ireland and there she was met with much sadness and a joy that cannot be surpassed! Clare came home but far different from the day she left!
She did not make it to the Hollywood stage but she, with certainty, made it to God’s stage!
My prayer is that one day someone with great wisdom will canonize her. St. Clare of Ireland! You can become acquainted with Sr. Clare on UTube.
The other nun whose life impressed me was the life of Sr. Catherine Cesnik of Baltimore. She, too, was a teacher and loved her students. Sr. Catherine was older than Sr. Clare; about thirty years or so. Her life, in no way, was wild like Clare’s was. But, they were teachers who loved and protected their students. To the point of giving their lives. In different ways.
Sr. Cathy was a defiant soul! As a teacher, she would walk the school halls alot and began to notice some odd goings-on. She kept her watch and noticed different behaviors that some young female students had. She knew, in her heart, she was onto something deep and dark. While Sr. was trying to unravel this troublesome mystery alone which involved her sad students, she found herself in muddy waters. The closer she came to an answer, the nearer she was approaching her death. As she was about to report all her findings, she was murdered. Why? These young girls were abused but too frightened to come forward. Sr. Cathy’s life can be viewed on NetFlix.
Sr. Cathy was born in the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburg, Pa. She taught at Archbishop Keogh High School in Baltimore, Maryland, as a drama and english teacher. Sr. Cathy was last seen on Nov. 7, 1969. She left her apartment which she shared with Sr. Helen Phillips.
She was going shopping to purchase an engagement present for her own sister.
She discovered that two priests were, allegedly, sexually abusing girls at the school. She was in the middle of gathering information when her life ended!
Two different lives and they lived for their God. Each Sister gave her life with love and purpose for their students. Sisters Clare and Cathy’s lives are both worth reading. Yes, Cathy Cesnik should also become a Saint! They were protectors of their Faith! They were the true keepers of their Faith!
Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.
Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!