Two nines on her cake said it all: Sr. Clem is 99!
Yes, our dear Sr. Clem began her hundredth year September 17th, 2007. And began it she did in grand style!
Friends from St. Stan's parish in Lansdale where she has served for nearly 30 years and many Sisters from her own community and from Philadelphia and Worcester came to greet this tremendous woman and to give thanks to God for her many years of faithful, generous, and untiring love and service. Who hasn't enjoyed Clem's unending supply of freshly baked cookies? or her garden of beautiful flowers, lovingly tended? or the priestly vestments and altar cloths so masterfully sewn and meticulously cared for? or the cheerful, even naughty, smile that always greets you when you walk into the house? or her faithful, steady presence at community prayer and adoration?
Thank you, Sr. Clem, for ninety-nine full and rich and unforgettable years. May your hundredth year, now begun, bring you a taste of the hundredfold that the Lord promises to those who love Him and leave all for Him.
Happy birthday, Clem!
Reprinted here below is an article written by Beth Leary Hegedus in the March 2005 issue of the St. Stan's newsletter. It tells you a bit more about this remarkable woman and religious.
Sr. Clemencia: A Story Worth the Telling
For Sr. Clemencia, a member of the St. Stanislaus parish since 1980, her faith-filled journey has been quite a memorable one. She has a beautiful heart and possesses incredible sewing talents as evidenced by the over 1500 baptismal gowns that she has embroidered here at St. Stan's. Sister's journey to Lansdale, PA is a story worth the telling.
Born in Alimodian, a small town in the Philippines in 1908, Sr. Clemencia was blessed at an early age with a religious fervor and an inquisitive mind. Her hometown was a very holy place to grow up, as life revolved around the Catholic church. Religion was not just a Sunday-morning sermon as almost everyone in the village was Catholic. Religion was paramount to the townspeople, evidenced by their yearly retreat to pray and sacrifice.
Because of her thirst for knowledge, Sr. Clemencia was an outstanding student. She excelled in reading and arithmetic and even jumped three grades: She was six years old when she finished second grade and then one year later she completed sixth grade.
"One of the reasons I did so well in school is that I always watched and observed," notes the ninety-six year-old religious.
Sr. Clemencia's father died when she was nine years old. She wanted to go to the orphanage of St. Vincent de Paul, but the priest told her there was no room. However, he must have noted that Sister really had something special because he made arrangements, a few years later when she was thirteen, for her to help another sister at the nearby Assumption Convent. It was there, under the tutelage of Sr. Marie Milagro, that Sr. Clemencia learned to embroider, crochet, and sew. In addition, she also learned Spanish and English. As a teenager, she was very good and very pious. "I prayed a lot and worked very hard," notes Sr. Clemencia. She especially loved to hear "The Divine Office" in Latin, hence her love of the liturgical language.
When she was nineteen years old, she observed another sister making her profession to serve the church and the peoplea glorious and spiritual celebration. She was incredibly moved by this experience. Coupled with her job at the convent and being surrounded by all the religious, Sr. Clemencia decided to enter the convent. In 1929, she entered the convent of the Assumption as a postulant. While a novice, she went to Belgium to the motherhouse by boat on a two-month trip that took her to such places as Manila, China, India, Sri Lanka and Marseilles.
In 1933, she took her first vows in Belgium and in 1936 she took her final vows in the Canary Islands. From there her religious travels took her to Lourdes, Madrid, Miami, "Ravenhill" in Germantown, Philadelphia and finally to Lansdale, Pa.
Sister certainly has a sense of humor. She chuckled when she remembered being summoned to the motherhouse in 1946 to meet with the Mother General. "I asked Mother what I did wrong. I was worried I was going to be sent back. I was told, instead, that I was going to America. I told Mother 'I'm afraid to go because I have not used English that much.' Mother's reply was, 'That's ok, it will come back to you;'"
In Sister's travels she has always helped children, as well as doing sewing, embroidery, and crocheting. She always wanted to improve her sewing so she signed up for a course with the Singer Sewing Company. They told her she was so good she didn't need any improvement and they graciously gave her two sewing machines for her school in Philadelphia. No stranger to hard work, Sister Clemencia would sew the Assumption Sisters' intricate habits that consisted of layers and layers of fabric, as well as sew some of the priests' vestments. In addition to her sewing talents, Sister is quite adept at flower arranging and is an excellent cook.
When asked who is her favorite saint, she doesn't miss a beat. She prays to Blessed Marie-Eugenie Milleret, foundress of the Religious of the Assumption. Sr. Clemencia was actually at Marie Eugenie's beatification in 1975. [Mother Marie Eugenie was canonized June 3rd, 2007.]
Sr. Clemencia loves St. Stan's parishioners. She possesses a friendly demeanor and loves people. She has lots of friends. Her mantra is: "Whenever I see people who never smile, I just keep smiling until they smile back." Sister, we can all take a lesson from you!
To send Sr. Clem a birthday greeting, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.