Today, Sister Claudia is busy tending to the needs of 16-year-old Melissa, now a junior at Owensboro Catholic High School, 13-year-old Joseph, a seventh grader at Burns Middle School, and seven-and-a-half-year old Derrick, a second grader at West Louisville Elementary School.
“In addition to taking care of all their physical and emotional needs, I have been trying to instill in their lives the same values and stability that I received from my parents and grandparents,” says Sister Claudia. “The way they lived their faith – being patient and steadfast – had a lifelong effect on me. I have had their example to help me through difficult times. They never abandoned hope and never have I.
“I want the children to grow up with confidence in themselves, to grow into adulthood equipped to help themselves and other people as well.
Teenager Melissa says of her aunt, “She’s been my “mother” for 16 years. She has a memory book that she has passed on to me that contains much that has happened to the three of us since we have been part of her life. There is one quote in it that really gets to me. She says I was sitting in her lap as a really small child – about three years old – when I looked up at her and said, ‘Cuia – that’s what I called her then – Cuia, when I get big like you and you get little like me, can I hold you like you hold me?’. When I read that, it makes me cry.”
Melissa says Sister Claudia is always setting good examples for her and her brothers. She says, “Claudie told me a long time ago that you can spend your life becoming strong or miserable, either way there is just as much effort involved. And I’ve tried to be strong.”
Sister Jacinta, who is godmother for the two boys, has been a big help to Sister Claudia. Says Sister Claudia, “When I was working at the hospital and had to get to work at 5:30 a.m., Sister Jacinta would arrive at the house at 4:45 and help get the children ready to take to my mother’s house. She would come anytime, day or night, to assist with any emergency, big or small.”
Sister Claudia says because of Sister Jacinta’s teaching background, she has helped the children with their class work, especially in math and science. “She’s always challenging and encouraging the kids, especially in their classwork, and in personal and spiritual development as well.”
Sister Jacinta is quick to return Sister Claudia’s words of praise. When it comes to Sister Claudia’s ministry with the children, Sister Jacinta says, “The first thing that comes to mind is that I believe Saint Angela is proud to call her ‘daughter.’ Although Claudia may speak at various decibels from the beginning to the end of the day, she ‘speaks with a gentle wisdom’ as she guides the children into the ways of the Divine. They in turn are growing in a home where love abides, and that too is at various decibels. God had a plan almost 40 years ago when she was called to be an Ursuline…a unique plan.”
A number of other Ursuline sisters have helped in the care of Melissa, Joseph and Derrick. Sister Claudia says they have shown care, concern and availability whenever they can.
The help she receives from her 80-year-old mother, from Sister Jacinta and other Ursuline sisters enable Sister Claudia to continue working in her part time nursing ministry in Paul Volk Hall while she tends to her fulltime family ministry of raising her niece and two nephews.
Sister Betsy Moyer is health care supervisor at Saint Joseph Villa and works closely with Sister Claudia every day at Paul Volk Hall. Sister Betsy says, “Sister Claudia takes her ministry of health care seriously, and is a devoted caretaker not only of our residents in Paul Volk Hall, but also in the devotion she has for her niece and nephews. When she cares for the residents, all her attention is on them even when a call comes in from school or home, she completes the needs of the person she is attending before she settles the needs of family.”