Words of Remembrance: Sr Judith Clark, RSCPrint
Sr Judith Clark, RSC
12 October 1927 – 13 October 2021
Motto: “Be it done to me according to your word”
Memories… we all have our own memories of Joan Clark, Sr Judith.
Joan Mary Clark was the second child of George Frederick and Clare Dorothea Clark. She had an older brother, Kevin, killed in World War II and a younger brother, Brian, recently deceased.
Joan was born on October 12, 1927, in western Queensland.
Moving to Brisbane Judith was taught by the Sisters of Charity in secondary school. After school, Joan Clark – as well as being a clerk\typist – joined the National Catholic Girls’ Movement and through them followed a life of prayer, scripture, and action.
Sr Judith has memories…. and she wrote:
“My mother often told the story of taking me to Benediction as a toddler. My mother was faithful in helping me ‘know’ and ‘believe’ in that Real Presence in which I always felt safe and protected . Through childhood years, I sought that “Presence” whenever possible, but particularly when I faced difficulty, heartbreak, or uncertainty in my life.
“In my secondary school years, I identified very closely with Mary Aikenhead’s life, which I first read at 11. I had a deep affection for my father, so I sorely missed his being part of my Catholic life, especially Sunday Mass. Thoughts of life as a Sister were ever present to me in my secondary school years. With the family grief caused by the tragic death of my brother,
victim of a war crime necessitating Nuremberg trial outcomes, all thoughts of leaving for the Convent were dismissed.
“The telling witness of the Sisters of Charity who taught me for four years always stayed with me, and without a doubt, influenced me greatly towards a religious vocation.”
Further on, she wrote… “About my Dad, it was my greatest joy when, returning to my home parish thirteen years after I entered, my father, suddenly terminally ill, was baptised and received into the Church, and buried from the church where we, as a family had worshipped together for many years without him, except on our Sacramental days. Perseverance had won the day. I had prayed daily for thirty-five years…’Please Jesus make my Dad a Catholic’.”
Judith loved being a Queenslander, loved her family, her niece and nephews and their families. She loved the Maroons and even a XXXX beer.
Joan Clark entered the Novitiate February 26, 1949, at Potts Point, Sydney (she entered with another Queenslander Sr Patricia Heenan.)
Sr Judith Clark was professed a Sister of Charity August 28, 1951. She taught at Potts Point, Katoomba, Concord West (1954-55), then Essendon in Melbourne.
In 1959, she moved back to Sydney to St Canice’s, Elizabeth Bay as principal. By 1961, she was back in Queensland as the principal of Ashgrove, then St John’s Wood. Sr Judith then came back to Sydney, Ashfield as CCD Coordinator. In 1993, Sr Judith was at the Concord West parish and stayed until 2021.
Parish Memories…. and the Parish has many memories!
August 28, 2021 was Sister Judith’s 70 year Platinum Jubilee…. how would we celebrate in this period of COVID?
So I rang the following, asking them could they send Sr Judith flowers for her Jubilee – The Parish, Jo, her niece, the School and Vasa. Then I rang Anna, the Facility Manager, at St Vincent’s Aged Care at Edgecliff , and told her what I had done. She started collecting vases!
On Friday, 27…. St Vincent’s Aged Care put on the most beautiful Celebration for Sister Judith’s Jubilee…. remember, .we could not attend due to Covid. On Saturday, Councillor Sr Adele Cottrell-Dormer visited Sr Judith. She received Communion, renewed, her vows and then enjoyed morning tea! Next, an Uber arrived with the School/ Parish Jubilee Book put together by Tania, Family Educator from St Ambrose School, depicting photos and messages from across 40 years of Sr Judith’s life at Concord West. Sr. Judith treasured this book!
On Saturday evening, the parish Mass was prayed in honour of Sr Judith. Fr Chaminda Wanigasena in his homily spoke of Sr Judith’s gifts from Baptism that she demonstrated in her life that of Priest, Shepherd and Prophet. Kerrie as VASA Coordinator delivered a tribute to Sr Judith naming all her achievements in the Parish. Sr Judith at Edgecliff was able to view, listen and be part of this special Mass and the PowerPoint presented! The Zoom Party after Mass was really special as Sr Judith not only attended but was able to respond and return her special greetings to all those present on the screen.
Sr Judith’s front screen door would go “bang!”
Off to visit in her car, give Communion, baby sit, shop for people, etc… Always giving a listening ear, or to walk up the hill to the Church for Mass, Children’s Liturgies, Catechetic Meetings, choir for Christmas and Easter, or just be in the front garden, pruning the roses, hosing the gardens, talking to everyone that went by or handing out kumquats to those who loved to make jam!
Or she might pop down to the school for mini Vinnies, class visits or morning tea, round the corner of Consort Street for the VASA meetings / gatherings.
Now Sr Judith’s front doorbell was not a normal bell but a cow bell! Its sound heralded people arriving for RCIA meetings, Lenten, and Advent Programs, receive instructions for becoming a Catholic or just visiting etc.
Her unit was her Sacred Space. There were photos of the Family. Judith loved her family, prayed for them, would talk about them, and would visit them. Judith was a great reader, researcher, loved her TV, and she treasured her prayer times. There were times when she would ring a friend and say “I am worried about such and such , come and pray with me!
If any of the Sisters were sick or not well there would be two hot scones freshly made in a brown paper bag outside our doors. She was a superb cook!
Motto…Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.
Her recent life would have been a test of this motto. She was beautifully cared for by Ana, the Manager and all the nurses. Despite the difficulties of the Pandemic she loved seeing the Sisters and her visitors. Having been a constant communicator, all her life, by phone, email or text, her failing sight, and her wandering fingers made it difficult!
Keeping in touch was difficult. But there was evident in Judith an acceptance, especially when she was frail and not well. And in fact she was preparing to meet Jesus and in the presence of Sr Kathleen, our Community Member, she slipped from this life into Eternity.
For your life and the many memories we all have,
For your Dedication and Commitment, we thank you.
Our Foundress, Mary Aikenhead, always asked of her Sisters “at all times be Extensively Useful.”
Judith, you have excelled yourself and we are proud of you. Well done, Judith, well done!
Oh, I just remembered! Sr Judith…. this is hot off the press. Linda Mcfadden, the Principal of St Ambrose School, whispered to me that the School was going to introduce the Sr Judith Clark Christian Doctrine Award for the Graduating Class of Year 6!
- Remembered by Sr Genevieve Walsh