Sister Claire Marie Czerwiec
February 11, 1938 – December 23, 2023
Barbara Mary Czerwiec was born to Joseph Czerwiec and Clara Hybiak Czerwiec, both of Chicago, of Polish ancestry, on February 11, 1938. She was one of three girls in the family. She was baptized at St. Casimir, Chicago. Later her home parish was St. Sabina, on the south side of Chicago, where she attended grade school. She attended high school at the Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, and received her B.A. at Mt. Mary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1963 and her M.A. at St John University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1974. She also received a Master of Theology in spirituality at Regis College in 1984.
Barbara entered the candidature in Milwaukee in 1956 and was received into the novitiate in 1957 as Sister Claire Marie. She took her first vows at the Milwaukee motherhouse in 1958, and her final vows at the Mequon motherhouse (which had moved from Milwaukee) in 1964.
Sister Claire Marie taught grade school at St. Stanislaus, St. Mary Czestochowa, and St. Margaret of Scotland, all in Chicago, from 1960 to 1973. (Chicago-DeKalb became a province in 1965.) In 1973, Claire became postulants’ directress at St. Constance in Chicago, until 1977. Following that, her ministry continued as postulant directress at St. Mary, DeKalb, Illinois, until 1980. Claire also did pastoral ministry for adults at St. Mary from 1977 to 1979.
In 1979, Claire was elected to the provincial council for a 4-year term. She then had a year of sabbatical at Regis College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, followed by a year of pastoral counseling at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. Other ministries included service on the personal development board, vocation team, formation team, interprovincial final vow team, provincial chapter, general chapter (1982), and interprovincial spirituality committee.
An interesting event in Claire’s life was finding the cash sum of $17,600. This she turned over entirely to the police department in Winnetka, where she had found it. Claire received a generous reward for returning this money intact.
From 1985 to 1999, Claire worked as a pastoral psychotherapist at the Institute for Living in Winnetka, Illinois, where her work was greatly appreciated and praised.
From 1999 to 2003, Claire again was chosen to be on the provincial council of Chicago. Following this work, she had another year of sabbatical. After this, she returned to pastoral counseling and spiritual direction ministry at St. Alexander Parish in Palos Heights, Illinois.
Claire died on December 23, 2023. Funeral services were held on Jan. 6 from Donnellan Funeral Home to Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Marian Village. Interment followed at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Claire was a member of SSND for 65 years.
There were two celebrants for the Mass of Resurrection: Father David Medow of Pastoral Care at Marian Village and Father Ryan Brady of St. Linus Parish where Claire was known and active. This is notable because of the large number of people who came because Claire was still in their lives in a variety of ways. Included were generations of her family, some of her students from St. Margaret’s, those who knew her from her work in formation, women from a book club she participated in, and parishioners from at least two parishes where she was still active.
By Charlaine Fill, SSND