By Mary Quilici Aumack
Recently I attended the Memorial Mass for Sister Mary Claude Power, PBVM. Those of you who knew her need no reminder of her strength, will and grace. For those of you who did not have the blessing of knowing her, she was the founding Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of San Jose. She served in that position from 1981-1999. In his homily, Bishop McGrath referred to her as one of the Foundresses of our Diocese. He remarked that with Catholic institutions we are very familiar with the term Founder, not so much with FOUNDRESS. She was a mother of our Catholic Community, a stalwart supporter of principals, teachers and students.
The Mass included reflections on Sister Claude’s life from her nephew Tim Healy. Also, Tim Brosnan, the principal of Mitty who was hired by her as the principal at Saint Martin of Tours in 1983; and Mary Miller, the principal of Presentation High School and a long time dear friend of Sister Claude.
This is how Tim Brosnan described Sister Claude: A take-charge leader, a passionate and brilliant educator, a faith-filled sister who could look death straight in the eye and proclaim with absolute certainty that death is not the end, resurrection is real.
Although it was not without sadness, it was an uplifting liturgy, a tribute not only to Sister Claude, but also to the faith and commitment of all of us. After Mass I commented to Sister Joan Panella who sat next to me (and taught me English at Notre Dame High School): I wish some of my friends who are leaning a little away from faith, could have been with us to experience this beautiful and deeply faith-affirming celebration.
My own friendship with Sister Claude blossomed only in the last year, as we embarked together on a project that was very dear to her. Although I did not have the gift of a multi-decade relationship with her, I am grateful for my glimpse into the wonder of this woman. Tim spoke of her commitment to technology, and how she had taken to texting as her preferred form of communication. When I knew she was ill, I sent a “snail mail” note to her. According to Mary Miller, many of you did that was well, and she was moved and grateful. In response to my note, I received a text saying that she was praying for me. SHE was praying for ME. I’m not sure I’ll ever erase that text.
I talk a lot about legacy. I know that it comes from the Latin for “ambassador.” More literally, it means carrying a message and set of values into the future.
Saint Peter wrote: “I shall also make every effort to enable you always to remember these things after my departure.” (2 Peter 1:15)
Sister Claude’s legacy will be deep and far reaching. She leaves with us her imprint of education, community, leadership, and love.
May we all strive to create our own legacy, harkening to Sister Claude. May we always remember.