More than 180 parishioners attended a reception at SS. Rose and Clement Parish after Sunday morning mass Jan. 20 to bid farewell to three religious sisters who have been assisting the parish with ministries and prayer devotions for the last 15 years.
After living in the convent behind the church since 1997, Sisters Marie Cafferty and Rita McGetrick recently moved to an assisted living facility in New York, while Sister Simonne Camire moved back to her hometown parish in Manhattan. They all were Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters.
Rev. Fr. Edward Wilson Jr., the parish pastor, said they are dearly missed.
“They brought a beautiful spirit of prayer, a love of God and of their faith, as well as kindness and support for all at the parish,” he said. “They were involved in every aspect of the parish’s life, and were a beautiful spirit of Christ’s presence among us.”
For the sisters, the feeling is mutual. Each of them expressed their gratitude to Fr. Wilson, church staff and the parishioners who made their time there special. Sr. Camire described it as an “extraordinary and vibrant” parish.”
“Fr. Wilson was a great pastor, and he and Deacon [Noel] Edsall always had homilies that were so well prepared,” Sr. Camire said. “The parish was involved in many different organizations, and people had the opportunity to join different committees. I will miss SS. Rose and Clement Parish.”
For Sisters Cafferty and McGetrick, who grew up in Providence, moving wasn’t something they intended on doing. But as they are growing older and require more care, they thought it best to relocate to Andrus On Hudson in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.
“I made a big sacrifice leaving, but because of my age, I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Sr. McGetrick. “I’m going to miss seeing the wonderful expressions of faith that the parishioners of SS. Rose and Clement had. There were almost 100 people who attended the seven o’clock mass every morning, and for me, that was a beautiful experience of the faith of these people. It was so edifying seeing everyone. Fr. Wilson is an exceptional priest. He’s very prayerful and faith-filled.”
Sr. Cafferty agreed.
“I have the most wonderful memories of the people, of the pastor – they were all wonderful,” she said. “It’s a marvelous parish and I hated to leave, but when you get old you have to move. It’s hard to get old, but it has its advantages. You get in a wheelchair and they push you around.”
All joking aside, Sr. Cafferty said being part of the Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters for the last 70 years has been quite the blessing. She taught in several schools in various states, including New York, Connecticut and Illinois, to name a few.
“I loved the children,” she said. “I loved the work I did.”
Sr. McGetrick, who entered the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1945, has a similar story, as she also taught at multiple Catholic schools for many years. She taught business education and religious education at schools in Illinois, as well as nearby states, including Connecticut’s Waterbury Catholic High School.
Additionally, she served as principal of St. Jean the Baptiste Elementary School in New York, as well as principal of another school in Chicago. Her latest gig was teaching unemployed people how to get back into the job market at Bristol Community College’s Attleboro campus.
Sr. Camire also recently worked with the unemployed through Bristol Community College; however, she was stationed at the Taunton location.
Like Sisters Cafferty and McGetrick, Camire, who entered the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1954, has taught in a variety of places. She was assigned to Notre Dame Academy in Waterbury, Conn., to teach mostly business education and some religion classes. She also lived in Ridgefield, Conn., where she served as secretary for the Provincial Administration for three years. In 2001, she got a part-time job for the Diocese of Providence in the Office for Religious Education and worked there until the end of last year.
Now, she’s back in Manhattan, and living in a convent that’s located on 76th Street in the neighborhood she grew up.
“St. Jean Baptiste Parish, the church where I was baptized and made my first communion, is at the corner of Lexington and 76th Street, and around the corner is the elementary school and high school I went to,” Camire said. “The elementary school was discontinued some years back, but the high school expanded and is still going very strong.”
She’s also pleased to be nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral and countless museums. And the “loads of restaurants” put a smile on her face, too.
“I really love Manhattan,” she said. “I’m happy to be back. There are various ministry opportunities because the high school is just around the corner, so I could help there with tutoring. The hospital is just up the street, and they’re always looking for volunteers. I’ll find something in the next few months or so just to help out. They say nuns never retire, only when they go to bed at night.”
While the Sisters are settling into their new homes, Fr. Wilson is working on bringing in religious sisters “for their beautiful and prayerful presence in our parish.” He’s also planning to see if other religious orders are interested in renting the rectory-turned-convent that the Sisters had been occupying.
In 1997, when the two parishes merged, then pastor Rev. Fr. Robert Marciano had been living in the rectory at St. Rose of Lima Parish on Main Avenue. He chose to stay there, leaving the former rectory at St. Clement available. Fr. Marciano invited the Sisters to see if they would be interested in renting the building as a convent and they did just that.
“When we saw the building, we said ‘This is magnificent,’” Camire said.
In other parish news, longtime parishioners John Fulton and Kenneth Andrade are being ordained as Deacons on Saturday at the Cathedral in Providence at 10 a.m. Sunday is their first mass as Deacons, and it will take place at Sts. Rose and Clement at 10:30 a.m. A reception will follow.