Sr. Claire (Ann Bernadette) Callahan (1922-2020)

Sister Clare Callahan died Sunday, April 19, 2020 at the Notre Dame Long Term Care Center, Worcester at the age of 98. Sister Claire was born in Boston, daughter of Michael D. and Julia A. (Duggan) Callahan. She graduated from St. Gregory's High School, Dorchester and entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1939 as Sister Ann Bernadette. She graduated from Emmanuel College, where she studied English, Education and History. She earned a Master's degree at Boston College in 17th Century English Literature. Sister completed several other educational programs to enhance her long ministry.

Sister Claire was a teacher at Notre Dame schools in CT and the Greater Boston area from 1942 to 1962. She was principal of St. Bernard School in West Newton from 1962 to 1966. In 1966, she responded to the call for Sisters to go to Africa. She went to Kenya with the first group of Sisters of Notre Dame to minister in that East African country. Teacher training was a priority for the Sisters and Sr. Claire worked preparing new Kenyan teachers to work in their own country. While in this important work, she became increasingly aware of the struggles of the young African Sisters in the indigenous communities.

Claire began what is still called the Association of Sisterhood of Kenya. The Association was a way for Mother Generals of the young communities to meet, share their problems and work toward common solutions. Many mature leaders emerged among the Kenyan Sisters and problems that seemed insurmountable were solved. To this day, Claire is affectionately referred to as "Our Mother" by Kenyan religious. She is still held in tremendous esteem in the country.

In 1979, Sister returned to Massachusetts, for a new chapter in her ministry. She filled several administrative positions for the Ipswich Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She also performed some parish pastoral work. In retirement, she was a freelance graphic artist.

Claire delighted others with her humor and simple, direct communication. And life was always happiest for Claire when a cat was part of her environment!

Sister Claire leaves her sister Elizabeth Clancy of West Kingston, RI, nieces, nephews and her religious sisters, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She was predeceased by her sisters, Catherine Marie Foley and Josephine M. Callahan, and her brothers, and Joseph and Daniel Callahan.

She is interred in Notre Dame du Lac Cemetery.



St. Mary of the Annunciation School, Cambridge, MA
St. Boniface School, New Haven, CT
St. Joseph School, Somerville, MA
St. Bernard School, West Newton, MA
Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
St. Anthony School, Somerville, MA

Service to Women Religious

National Council of Women Religious, Kenya
Religious Superiors Association, Kenya

To make a memorial contribution to the Sisters in Sr. Claire's name. please click here.