Claire O’Mara, Ursuline sister May 20, 1922 – January 8, 2012
Ursuline Sr Claire O’Mara, who spent 17 years in Latin America with her order before later spending time in jail in protest of the School of the Americas, passed away January 8, the feast of the Epiphany, in New York. She was 89.
Sr Claire, a Massachusetts native, entered the Ursulines in 1945 and made her final vows in 1951. Her Ursuline life of service extended beyond the United States to Mexico City, where she ministered from 1954-66. She spent a year of tertianship in Rome during that period and served in Rome from 1974-76.
She studied Spanish at Salamanca Pastoral Institute in Madrid in from 1966 to 1967, followed by three years of service in Miramar, Peru. It was in Central and South America that she became known for her dedication to the causes and the people of Mexico and Peru (and later the Bronx) and her commitment to issues of social justice.
Sr Claire, compelled by the murder of fellow Ursuline Sr Dorothy Kazel, was arrested at the gates of Fort Benning, Galifornia, in November, 1994, along with twelve others. She was 74.
Before her trial for the action, she was asked if she were scared of going to jail. Sr Claire O'Mara said in a 1996 interview with NCR that she was “too old to be nervous” about going to prison. O’Mara also said it was partly Sr Dorothy Kazel’s story which inspired her to make a 25-hour train ride to join the protest.
Sr Dorothy was one of four US churchwomen killed by graduates of the School of the Americas while working in El Salvador in 1980. (Now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and located at Fort Benning, the school trains soldiers from Latin America.)
During the 1996 trial of the 13 SOA protesters, Judge Robert Elliot initially sentenced Sr Claire, and the only other female in the group, 59-year-old Mennonite volunteer Jo Anne Lingle, to probation. Sr Claire and Jo Anne Lingle protested, asking to be given prison sentences just like their male counterparts. The judge then sentenced them both to two months in prison.
Even after a stroke had limited her activities in 2006, Sr Claire propelled herself around in a wheelchair, waving aside the treats and snacks urged upon her, living in the moment, revelling in so much, [and] expressing gratitude to all for everything.
FULL STORY: National Catholic Reporter, http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/ursuline-sister-soa-prisoner-conscience-dies Eastern Province in Memoriam 2012:
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