St Joseph of Cluny Sister Marie Claire Joseph expressed gratitude to the Congregation for its faith in her and the opportunities it gave her to be of service. She acknowledged that if she “stood tall” it was because she was standing on the shoulders of the giants who went before her and if there is anything to praise, it is only because those with whom she collaborated were of one heart and mind.
Sr Claire shared this sentiment on being awarded the St Lucia Medal of Honour (Gold) for distinguished service in Education and Community service.
The investiture ceremony took place March 11 at the Royalton Hotel, as renovations were being done at Government House, its usual venue.
Sr Claire told Catholic News that belonging to a missionary congregation, she was “simply fulfilling what our Foundress, and by extension the Congregation expected of me. I have only done my duty with the help of willing and often enthusiastic co-workers; and if I have succeeded in doing a little good, to the God who loves us and gives us His strength, be the glory.”
Her vision as an educator, she explained, was to facilitate and direct every girl to grow to be a woman and appreciate the discipline of an all-round development.
“Excellence was the aim whether at Maths, English, Home Economics, Science, Singing, art, quadrille, sports or netball. And all this with the understanding that God had his rightful place in our lives.”
In total, 31 persons received medals under other categories: St Lucia Cross, St Lucia Medal of Honour (Gold, Silver), St Lucia Medal of Merit (Gold, Silver), St Lucia Les Pitons Medal (Silver, Bronze) and The Public Services Long-Service Medal.
Sr Claire was born in Trinidad and grew up in a practising Catholic family. She started her teaching career in 1954 and entered the Cluny Sisters in 1958. In September 1973, she was assigned to St Joseph’s Convent Secondary School, Castries where she taught Religion, English Language, Literature, Art and Singing. In 1981, she pursued her Masters in education at the University of Birmingham, UK and upon her return was appointed Principal of St Joseph’s Convent until her retirement in 1999.
During those 25 years, Sr Claire was involved in Church, serving on vocation and liturgical commissions and in education on committees responsible for the implementation of CXC and 11 plus examinations. She also served as secretary to the National Principals’ Association from 1982–1998. Sr Claire mentioned that SJC put St Lucia on the CXC Regional Map on three occasions.
Sr Claire has received awards from the Church, State and Rotary Club in recognition of her contribution in both spheres. Among the various initiatives that were undertaken while Sr Claire served as principal, her “pet project” was the establishing of SJC Steel complete with band room and their own set of instruments.
After an absence of some ten years serving in Trinidad, Sr Claire is once more resident in St Lucia, her second home as she calls it, but this time serving at the foundational level of the pre-school. “And what a pleasant challenge!” she said.