Beloved Presentation Sister returns to Christ

29 Apr 2020

By Amanda Murthy

By Amanda Murthy

The much-loved Regina Maria Sciesinski, known as Presentation Sister Mary Clare PVBM, was called to the Lord on 23 March 2020, just months after losing her battle with pancreatic cancer.

Born on 16 April 1948 in Butzbach, Germany, where she was baptised and confirmed, Sr Clare, as she was known, was the eldest of seven children.

Memorable moments taken at the Final Profession of Vows of the late Sr Clare as a Presentation Sister on 6 January 1974 at Iona Presentation Convent. Present for the event were her parents, siblings, Presentation Sisters, and the then-Auxiliary Bishop of Perth Peter Quinn who officiated. Photo: Supplied.

Entering the Presentation Sisters WA from her hometown of Collie on Presentation Day, 21 November 1965 at the age of 17, Sr Clare made her Final Profession of Vows on 6 January 1974.

Presentation Sisters WA leader Sr Lucy van Kessel spoke highly of Sr Clare, who she said was always proud of her Collie roots and loved returning there to spend time with family and friends.

“Though taught by the Presentation Sisters, she loved the Franciscan Spirituality shared by the Franciscan Friars, and this spirituality characterised her faith and devotion throughout her life,” Sr Lucy noted.

A woman of many achievements and talents to offer, Sr Clare excelled in all her studies at Holy Spirit Institute, as well as at Claremont Teacher’s College and later the University of Western Australia, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in English Literature.

While in the novitiate, Sr Clare also completed a Speech and Drama Associateship. Her flair in this field shone through in numerous dramatic and musical productions and was a key element in her teaching style.

After several years teaching Religion, English and English Literature at Iona Presentation College, Sr Clare enjoyed a sabbatical year at Yarra Theological Union and in the following two years, earned a Bachelor of Theology, majoring in Biblical Studies from the Catholic Theological Union (Clayton) and Yarra Theological Union (Box Hill) through the Melbourne College of Divinity in Victoria.

The late Regina Maria Sciesinski standing with her mother and father on her Reception Day, when she was received as a novice on 13 November 1966 into the Congregation of Presentation Sisters of WA at Iona Convent Chapel, Mosman Park. Photo: Supplied.

In later years, she gained her Master of Theology from the University of Notre Dame Australia Fremantle Campus.

Sr Clare served the people of God in WA for over 50 years, actively working with and for various Catholic organisations (schools, colleges, universities, university residential college, seminaries) in various capacities, as a teacher, lecturer, boarding mistress, assistant rector and acting assistant dean at Thomas More College, and at UNDA.

More recently, she had been invited to facilitate a writing group for the forthcoming Plenary Council.

“Wherever Mary Clare ministered, she was committed to spreading the Gospel Good News and initiating a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ,” Sr Lucy van Kessel stated.

“Among her favourite memories was attending the graduations of her nieces and nephews, as she was very involved in their lives and loved them dearly.

“One of her recent highlights was her golden jubilee of service to religious life celebrated in January 2019,” she added.

The late Regina Maria Sciesinski celebrated her Golden Jubilee of her Profession on 6 January 2019, an event she recounted as one of her most cherished memories. From left: Barbara Kearney, Frank Sciesinski, Sr Clare, and Paul Sciesinski. The celebration included attending a Mass at Saint Joseph’s Church, Subiaco thereafter enjoying a light lunch in the Parish Centre with loved ones. Photo: Supplied.

The University of Notre Dame Professor Philip Matthews, wrote about Sr Clare after her death.

“The most compelling memory of Sr Clare is her sense of humour,” Prof Matthews cited.

“The sound of her laughter was a reminder that the world is a good place.”

Supreme Court Justice Neville Owen AO, Chair of Iona Presentation College Board, gave a eulogy for Sr Clare.

“She was a talented, committed and compassionate person who lived out the Gospel values and contributed to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to their fullest, she will be sadly missed,” Justice Owen said.

The St Charles’ Seminary community express their condolences over the huge loss of Sr Clare, who was their visiting lecturer and “played an invaluable role in the formation of numerous priests and religious in addition to being a beloved friend, mentor, and colleague to many”.

“Her warmth and affection, her sense of humour, her passion for teaching, and her faith in Christ leave a lasting impression on the many who have been fortunate to have had her in their lives,” the collective message read.​

“We pray for Sr Clare, that the Lord will receive her into his loving embrace, and grant her a share in His Resurrection.”

In a heartfelt tribute, the Presentation Sisters thanked Sr Clare for all the wonderful memories, especially for her 12-year contribution to the Presentation Sisters Leadership Team, which she always tackled “with practical good sense and always, the wish for generosity”.

“Despite her illness, she faced her final journey with courage, great serenity and the absolute certainty that she was in God’s care,” the tribute read.

“Her favourite scripture was: ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’, which she often quoted, especially in her last weeks.

“She was funny and grateful to the end, often saying how loved she had been.

“In return she had been so very loving to all she met. May she rest in peace,” the tribute concluded.