Remembering Sr. Claire Young, HM
The Magnificat community mourned the passing of Sister Claire Young, H.M. on December 11. Sister Claire (formerly Sister Mary Pius) devoted her life to the ministry of education, serving 45 years at the secondary and collegiate levels in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Bangladesh. Magnificat was blessed by her years of service as a physical education teacher and coach from 1956-1967, and as principal from 1967-1971. She remained in close connection to the Magnificat community through the years, particularly by praying daily for the Magnificat community and volunteering as an HM Pen Pal for an Advisory. With the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Magnificat gives thanks for the life and ministry of Sister Claire with the sure and certain hope of her welcome into God's eternal embrace.
To read Sr. Claire Young's obituary, please click here.
Thank you to all the alumnae who shared remembrances of Sister Claire Young.
I graduated from Magnificat in 1960. I remember Sister [Mary] Pius as my gym teacher well. More recently I made a retreat at the Villa and recognized Sister Pius and went up to her and we chatted a bit. When she told me what she had been doing since I graduated, I was surprised when she mentioned her time in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I told her about my son who has worked in Bangladesh and still travels there every year as he does research on water-related diseases. It was a happy encounter I had on that retreat with Sister Pius. Unexpected and memorable. I am so happy I had that opportunity to connect with her once again. - Jackie Jasko Emch ’60
My memories of Sister Claire are good ones. Especially being on the first tennis team for Magnificat High School from 1961 to 1964. We brought back several trophies from tournaments even though we had only three team members: Andriene Ihnot (now a Blue Nun), Rosie Costanza, and me. I remember her beautiful smile, athletic skills, and energy. What a gift to have had her for so many years. She is an inspiration! - Gerri Trope Joecken ’61
When I think back to my high school days at Magnificat, I always smile when I think of the faculty. We had some of the nicest, kindest, and smartest teachers including the Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary.
I remember the first time I met Sister Mary Pius, my gym teacher, who would take her habit and pin it between her legs so she could participate in some of the activities we were doing. She was truly a magnificent athlete. Always with a smile on her face and a kind word, even when you did something really stupid. She caught us telling jokes in the locker room. Rather than punish us, she wanted to hear the jokes and laughed with us.
It was after my time Magnificat, when I received a call from Sister Ann Patrick, who asked me if I would be willing to drive them to Michigan to attend Marquette University graduate school. It was 1965, and I had just bought a brand new Mustang convertible, fire engine red. Sister Ann Patrick had just received her driver’s license. As we were driving to Michigan, Sister Ann Patrick asked me if I would let her drive into her sister's driveway. Sister Mary Pius begged me not to let her do it. She said she just wasn’t qualified. I could never say no to my favorite teacher.
I allowed Sister Ann Patrick to take over as the driver and Sister Mary Pius turned chalk white with fear. You have to remember in those days the sisters all wore habits, so it was hard for her to see what was behind her or next to her. The funniest thing happened on the interstate when Sister Ann Patrick decided it was time to change lanes, and without hesitation she said “God be with us,” and she moved over one lane. I forgot to mention she also insisted that I put the top down on the convertible. I can only imagine what the other people on the road were thinking watching these two beautiful ladies in the front seat driving on I-90 heading to Michigan, habits flying in the breeze.
Sister Mary Pius influenced my life in many ways. My love of sports, and my faith in God. Sad to say the religious community has lost a Sister, but I feel confident she is joined by others who dedicated their lives to teaching young women how to live good lives. I’m sure she was received with open arms into her heavenly home. - Marilyn Gagen ’62
God bless Sister Mary Pius, as she was known to me. She encouraged me as a shy, very young student (I graduated at 16), to believe in myself and become the strong, successful woman I am. She was an inspiration to me. - Barbara Hann Muir ’62
I've been thinking about Sister [Mary] Pius, with a smile on my face today. What I remember is that she swooped. She didn't walk, she didn't run or trot, she swooped. That's the only way to describe how she approached a group of students in the gym or hallways or grounds of Magnificat. She swooped. We will miss her. - Susan Jerman Adams ’62
She was one of the BEST! Always cheerful and made gym class, which I hated and avoided whenever possible, almost tolerable with her enthusiasm for sports. She was ahead of her time in working with young women on fitness and health!! - Ellen Canepa Brzytwa ’63
I loved Sister Mary Pius. I had her for gym and debate. She was so athletic, purposeful, and fun. A great teacher. God bless her. - Anne Mather ’63
I remember her as a super enthusiastic PE teacher, encouraging calisthenics, and sometimes archery. She was always upbeat and optimistic. Sounds like she had a productive life. - Jean Brinich ’65
Sister Mary Pius was our gym teacher in the days when sisters still wore habits and we wore very ugly green gym uniforms...short dresses with "bloomer" type pants underneath. I remember that Sister livened up her habit by wearing gym shoes of two different colors. When I commented on her shoes one day, she told me that she had another pair just like the ones she was wearing, but in the opposite colors! - Kathleen Patton Binnig ’65
I remember a wonderful person with fond memories, who was engaged in developing us physically, mentally, and spiritually. She was a taskmaster and [her] expectations were for me, you can do whatever you set your mind on accomplishing. Will keep her in my prayers. - Linda Sironnovik Stewart ’65
I am a member of the class of 1966 and knew Sister Claire Young as Sr. Mary Pius. She was one of my favorite if not THE favorite teacher at Magnificat. She was the gym teacher the four years I attended, and as for me I was pretty klutzy in gym but she was always so nice to everyone. We had to participate in this weird game called Speed-A-Way which was sort of like soccer watered down and I still can't figure out the rules but she was always explaining how to do it! The class colors of '66 were orange and white and we had white gym uniforms with little attached skirts and we had to embroider our names on the pocket area in orange thread! Sister Claire started the gymnastics program and encouraged me actually, but I was a scaredy-cat on the bars! But all the girls thought it was really cool to see a nun—in those days it was still pretty much the veil and habit—in tennis shoes coaching gym rather than the "nun's shoes" everyone thought were so funny!
The best part was she was the debate coach for my four years at Magnificat. We had to audition for the debate and speech club as freshmen, I was absolutely terrified when it was my turn to audition. To this day, I remember that my hands were shaking so hard that I hid them behind my back so no one could see, my stomach was like jello and my mouth was so dry I was mispronouncing words! But she must have seen something in me because to my shock and surprise she accepted me in the club. With her encouragement and training I went on with my debate partner to win several championships. We went to debate tournaments every weekend. She was the world's most fabulous coach. Because of my debate training I know that I was more successful, especially in my later years and in college. This was due to the debate training; knowing how to research and plan a paper or a speech to me was a snap while I watched others struggle, but I have Sister to thank for that!
On top of that, Sr Mary Pius - Claire Young was so cool because through debate tournaments and watching the girls on the team go to prom in later HS years, she even got to know our "boyfriends" and even all the guys thought she was really cool. My HS boyfriend had long chats with her, and he thought she was fabulous and always talked about how much he liked her.
I am sorry she left us on earth, but I know she is in heaven and I will have the best memories of her forever. - Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter ’66
I am so fortunate to have been guided by Sister Mary Pius throughout my four years at Magnificat.
I was with her from the beginning of the gymnastics program. We celebrated the arrival of the balance beam, the parallel bars and the “horse!” With the ‘How To’ book in hand, under her coaching and spotting, we started competing in local events as a very young team. She was never afraid to “spot” us confidently, risking her own injuries of bumps, bruises, and kicks, as we tried new skills. It was a comfort knowing she would be there to catch us when we missed the bar and headed to the ground!
Such fond memories!! The eventual success of the gymnastics program is certainly her doing! My thoughts and prayers are with her family and former students. - Jeanie Foley Foxx ’67
Saddened to hear of Sister's passing. What a gal! So honored to have the privilege of being one of her many students at Magnificat High School. Loved her smile and her caring nature and zest for her profession. - Carol Skiba ’67
I will always remember Sister Mary Pius as a gym teacher more than a principal. Since Magnificat is a Catholic high school, I wasn't very surprised to see a nun when I went to my first gym class. What did surprise me was to see all of the things she did in her habit. She brought fun to gym class. - Lynn McManus ’68
She was a dear sweet energetic woman. I remember her teaching gym class and running circles around us youngins...and she could jump higher than any one I have ever known. Her long strides were contagious. Sorry for your loss, but I know she cheers us on from above. - Paula Reeve Browand ’68
Sister always seemed like a bit of a 'rebel' in a very good way—a woman in holy robes apace with the times and I'd say ahead of 'the times.'
If I recall correctly, it was Sister who started showing movies at lunchtime—I'm pretty sure to keep us girls' occupied on something other than gossip or shenanigans.
She was athletic and cinched up her robe to play basketball or whatever she was trying to teach us. Stepping over imaginary 'boundaries' at the time about young women and sports. Also she was one of the first to transition from restraining robes to skirt and blazer. She was young, modern, and fit—a breath of fresh air and as I later realized—she was a wonderful advocate for young women in their formative years.
So, I just want to thank her for being a wonderful role model. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, but I do now. I'm pretty sure others remember her as such as well.
God bless Sister and thanks to her! - Carol Sitas Barron ’68
Sister Claire Young was an amazing woman—instilling confidence in the students at Magnificat, showing us, through example, that women can do anything, even walk across a balance beam! - Barbara Byrnes Lenarcic ’69
She was the physical education teacher and we learned the game speed a way. This was before soccer. In the sixties, we received a new balance beam for all to use. Sister participated in all activities in her full habit. - Jean Doheny ’69
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our memories of Sister Claire Young.
I entered Magnificat as a freshman in 1965. Upon hearing the news of her passing, I dug out my yearbooks and found this picture of her playing basketball with us. Of course, she was Sister Mary Pius back then. Once, while we were playing, a basketball hit her in the head and knocked her veil and wimple off. We all stopped dead in our tracks in shock and horror. We had never seen a nun’s hair before. In fact, many of us had never realized that nuns had hair at all!
...To see Sister’s hair dumbfounded us all. And to have actually struck her with a basketball seemed to be a sacrilege. We were afraid we might be struck by lightning for committing such a sin. But Sister quickly picked up her headgear and replaced it with one hand while retrieving the ball with the other. When she saw us standing frozen, like we had been playing a game of statues, she reprimanded us, “Girls! Don’t just stand there! Get back in the game!” And she threw the ball to one of us as if nothing had happened. She didn’t even blow her whistle! - Bridget Mann Schafer ’69
I graduated from Magnificat in 1970. Sister Claire Young was just made principal and we were changing with the times. The habits, the names, and the "order" name changed from Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary to the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Many, if not all, students witness and live through strong changes in their formative high school years. I cherish the influence of the gifted and loving teachers that I had at Magnificat. Sister Claire Young was one of those teachers. Sister Dominica, Sister Mary Pat, Sister Jean, to name a few, are some of the strongest influences I carry with me. I remember Sister Claire fondly. She had a commanding presence. She was strong, determined, and a genuine, loving, caring woman. I am grateful. - Sandra Ricker Metcalfe ’70
My memories of Sister Claire young go wayyyy back, [to] when she was Sister Mary Pius. When we were little kids, eight or ten years old, my dad would drive his cousin, Sister Mary-Joanna Huegle (formerly Sister Mary Arlene) to the Villa in the summertime. We were lucky enough to have Sister Claire along for the ride too!!! She was such fun and answered all our curiosities about nuns, with kindness and a sense of humor. And [she] would throw her head back and laugh so hard. This was back in the day when the nuns wore the long habits. How we enjoyed her. I graduated from Magnificat in 1971 and remember her so fondly. She would shoot hoops with us and was always encouraging. As principal, she watched over her girls with love, caring, and kindness. Thank you Sister Claire...May you rest in peace always. - Mary Beth Miller Henning ’71
What a dear friend Sister Claire has been since she was my debate coach beginning in 1959 at Magnificat High School. We have kept in touch all these years, even when she was in Bangladesh. She even came to our daughter’s wedding. She will be missed not only by me, but my husband and children who came to know her over the years. - Mary Pat Ferron Canes ’63
I began Magnificat in 1959 and Sr. Mary Pius was my gym teacher. She was so young and full of spirit. I still do two of the exercises she taught us to this day. My days at Magnificat had a profound effect on my whole life and Sister Mary Pius (Claire Young) was part of that. God bless her forever. - Kristi Ruppelt Jalics ’63
Sister was my gym teacher and Debate coach all four years at Magnificat. She was a formidable personality to say the least. I must admit I was a little afraid of her, but she was a great motivator. After the assassination of JFK on a Friday, my debate partner and I went to her to say that we were too sad to compete in the tournament in Columbus the next day. Though shaken herself of course, she told us no, we should go. Then she told us that we should "work as if everything depends upon us, and pray as if everything depends upon God." I don't think that was a original idea, but it was the first I had heard it—and it has stayed with me throughout my life.
She was an amazing role model for young girls, and a tireless supporter of Magnificat. She will be missed. My deepest sympathy to her Sisters. - Molly Curtis Hanley ’65
Sister Claire Young was a friend of my parents (who were old enough to be her parents), before she became an HM sister. They all belonged to the Newman Alumni Association. There was a great deal of excitement in our household when we learned of her decision. A short film to promote the order was made of her being interviewed, and someone brought the film to our home, where we all gathered around in awe. Movies at home were a rarity in those days!
She was my gym teacher at Magnificat...always kind, always with a nifty sense of humor. Gym was never my favorite subject, but Sister Claire was a wonderful teacher, and I admired her very much.
We kept in touch over the years, and when we visited her in Florida, we had many good conversations. At that time, she went swimming just about every day, walked a lot, prayed with prisoners at a local prison several times a week, and was just a delightful, wonderful person.
My husband and I visited her at her lovely apartment in Vero Beach, Florida a few times. We had lunch together...once prepared by her, and once in the clubhouse of her complex. We had wonderful conversations, and were always inspired by this wonderful woman who gave so much of herself to help others.
May God be good to her! - Kathleen Heverin Sambora ’59
She never just walked...she flew...rosary beads bouncing along with her veil flying in the wake of her stride. She abounded with energy, always with a contagious smile and a full heart. I took four years of P.E. just to be a part of her “you can do anything” mantra. She was awesome. - Phyllis Kondrich Robitaille ’61
As Student Council Vice President in my senior year, I was still somewhat shy and tentative. I needed more courage and assertiveness while preparing for Night-in-Blue. All she said to me was, “With authority comes responsibility.” She helped me go forward in the moment, but more importantly, her wisdom has helped me for a lifetime. Isn’t that the point of great leadership? I wish her peace. - Kathy Stoffan Eckles ’71
I have fond memories of Sister Claire Young or Sr. Mary Pius as I knew her as my gym teacher at Magnificat and also the moderator of our debate team. I always loved traveling to debate tournaments on Saturday mornings with her. She helped me learn self-confidence which was so important later in life. Reading all the places she served and all that she did is so impressive. A life well-lived. - Martha Amer Zachlin ’61
Sister Mary Pius taught me that it’s harder to be a good loser than to be a winner. Good sportsmanship is imperative to succeed in sports and in LIFE. She was who I looked up to and who I emulated as I took a teaching position and as I grew up. I also thought it was so cool that her family was involved in International Harvester. May she rest in peace in the arms of our Father. - Joan E Neff Booker ’59
I am a member of class 1961. I had Sr. Mary Pius for gym for a few years. I recall her enthusiasm and dedication to her class. I wasn't particularly interested in sports unless they were related to water, snow, and ice but she had a way of getting everyone out on the floor and trying basketball, baseball, and volleyball and encouraged teamwork which helped after sports were over. - Diane Koster-Marquard ’61
So glad to get an opportunity to tell you my memories of Sister Claire. I was blessed to have Sister Claire as my P.E. teacher all of my four years at Magnificat. My most memorable memory is visual, as Sister would run and participate in our soccer or softball [games] and all the sports that we would rotate through. She was so very tall and lanky, yet she had the utmost coordination and looked like a gazelle, gorgeously moving quickly through the grass with her long veil flowing and blowing and following her beautiful frame like the most emphatic exclamation mark. These were the days when women weren't supposed to excel in sports. We were supposed to cross our legs at the ankles and keep our hands folded in our laps, the epitome of [being] ladylike. She was out there doing.
I couldn’t help but be inspired and tutored in her obvious strength, and unbridled and unconscious freedom, unafraid to show her gifts of coordination and grace. Her love of participation and being really darn impressive and super athletic in everything she did made a tremendous impact on me as I continued to participate in sports every day of my life. It’s what I wanted to do with my life, do the sports I loved and make a living at it. She did as a Sister, most unusual in those days.
She followed her dream and worked daily running and jumping and doing the extraordinary in an outfit not quite conducive to all she did, yet she made it look so natural, joyful, and easy. So truly, she was the person that really told me by example that it was quite alright to be athletic and love it, and really do something with the gifts that God had given us. I was a tomboy and my Dad frowned on my achievements, but I finally became a good teacher and professional coach in two different sports that spanned my lifetime, 45 years of coaching to be exact.
Sister Claire Young's strong daily influence helped a young woman find the freedom and rejoice in what she loved, and hopefully have a smidgen of grace and athletic talent that Sister Claire so magically showed us so many years of her life. - Patti/Trish Fisher Binder ’65
My memories of Sr. Claire go back to freshman gym class. We were being taught how to dance! As we partnered up, I was Sister Claire’s partner for a lively polka. Back in those days, Sister wore the habit, complete with a rosary that hung from her waste. As she swung around, the Rosary did too and the crucifix caught me on the leg a couple of times.
Sister Claire was also a good friend to my Dad. He worked in the kitchen at Night-in-Blue, cooking the beef for “the biggest roast beef sandwich in town” and he and Sister Claire had many a good laugh and conversation.
Humankind: Be both
Ubi Caritas et amor, Deus ibi est
- Mary Voelker Deluga ’68
Sister Claire was Sister Mary Pius when I was at Mags. During the Lenten season, at lunch time, she would show movies charging .05 per day. - Christine Mayher Connors ’66
We wore gym uniforms of seafoam green. Gym was always interesting! Re Murphy and I were partners on the Debate Team. We spent many hours with Sister Pius practicing and many weekends traveling to debates as far away as Detroit. Sister was always fun to be with and made debating an art form that is still part of my life. One of the reasons that my sisters and I went to Magnificat was that Sister’s father and our father were friends. Rest in peace. - Mary Ann Egan Furin ’61
I was a student at Magnificat High School from 1956–1960. Sister Mary [Pius] was very kind to me. I was very inflexible and could not do a somersault. Gym class was all about flexibility. She had me join the basketball team where I could succeed. I have thanked her all my life. Teachers matter! - Bernice Duffy Lazar ’60