Sister St. Claude Lenox, CSJ
With deep gratitude to our gracious and Creator God we come together to celebrate the life and goodness of Sister St. Claude Lenox, a Sister of St. Joseph for 74 faithful and, we’d have to add ~ adventurous years. Claude’s love of lighthouses and her broad perspective on life and the magnificence of God’s creation they afforded, framed her life.
Proud to call herself a ‘Girl from Brooklyn’, Claude, born Lucille to George and Catherine Lenox grew up with her sister Patricia with St. Michael’s School and Parish as the center of their lives. Faith-filled values were evident as the Lenox family was known for its kindness and care for the dear neighbor.
Choosing to go to the Manual Training High School in Brooklyn, Claude emersed herself in a lifetime commitment to hard work and a no-nonsense approach to getting things done. Many have stated quite lovingly that over the years Claude kept them on their toes!
After teaching in St. Cecilia’s, Claude was missioned to Puerto Rico where she earned a BA from Catholic University in Ponce. Of course this was achieved while teaching second graders in Santa Teresita and San Conrado.
Returning to the states Claude earned a degree in Spanish at Middlebury College in Vermont and continued her ministry as an educator teaching Spanish at The Mary Louis Academy, Holy Family High School, and Stella Maris High School. It was at Stella Maris, actually on the basketball court, that Claude earned the endearing title of “Cannonball Claude” as some of her students, who are here today can testify to.
In later years, Claude’s love of Rockaway Beach and its friendly welcoming people brought her as Director of Religious Education to St. Camillus while earning an MA in Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington. For nine years her deep spirituality, love of God’s people, quick wit and zest for life enriched the lives of countless families in the Rockaways.
In 2007 Claude was asked to return to Brentwood as an Assistant Coordinator of the Motherhouse while helping on the Pastoral Care Team ~ and an active, ardent team member she was! As a sideline, Claude honed her woodworking skills to create wondrous displays for the Sisters.
We’re grateful that Sister Ronnie Murtha, a valued part of that dynamic Pastoral Care Team will share a reflection of our very own “Chica Claude.”
Ronnie Murtha’s Reflection on Sister St. Claude
In the Book of Genesis there is the story of Joseph and the many colors in his beautiful coat. S. Claude was a Colorful GEM! She had a vivid bright sense of color. There were so many sides to her and so many gifts and sparkles she shared with all of us.
She was attentive to God’s loving call and chose the Feast of the Sacred Heart as her annual Feast Day! She was responsive to God’s Presence within her Faith and her daily prayer life. She decorated her bedroom with a banner of red Lighthouses. She was surrounded by and constantly reminded of Jesus’ words: “I am the Light of the World.”
I met Claude 13 years ago when we both were in the Pastoral Care Department in this Convent. She had previously been the administrator of the Maintenance Department. She was both gentle and determined, practical and prayerful, fun and focused, clear and colorful, contemporary and traditional and consistent compassion for her dear neighbor.
In that role, whenever a Sister died, Claude would create a ‘space for Love, Prayer, Grief, and Gratitude in the ambulatory’.
She would display a large photograph of the Sister, a candle, and pictures from her life.
It was a beautiful caring space for prayer and conversation.
One of my favorite moments with Claude was the day she celebrated her 80th Birthday. The Sisters placed flowers and a cake on her table! There was a gigantic balloon by her chair! Unintentionally, I met her coming up from the Dining Room, carrying her balloon. We walked together and chatted. She said she was on her way to the side Porch . . . off we go!
She told me that today, on her Birthday . . . she would send this balloon filled with her love and prayers and gratitude to her Mother and Father. It was so tender and touching. We spent some precious time on that special day. She was precious!
In the years when the Sisters of St. Joseph formed an orchestra, Claude played the DRUMS. She played with enthusiasm! She loved to play. No notes were involved. She just kept that beat! And when she could no longer hear clearly, she played with full delight. She had fun and she was FOCUSED!
When Claude returned from her years in Puerto Rico, she was fluent in Spanish . . .she would greet you with a smile and EXCLAIM fondly: CHICA!!
After Vatican II Claude realized that she wanted to learn more about faith and prayer, so she went to study at the Seminary in Huntington.
If you were driving her to an event or appointment, as soon as her seat belt was safely closed . . . she began the Rosary!
One day when she and I were preparing a prayer service for the Sisters, she gave me a copy of her daily prayer to use for the Sister’s special birthday. Now, in her honor, with abundant gratitude we pray together:
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, that is,
than falling in love in
a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love
Stay in Love
And it will decide
E V E R Y T H I N G
Pedro Arrupe, SJ
It was an honor to know and love Claude; a blessing to share time and goodness with this colorful, caring, and courageous Sister of St. Joseph who overflowed with love for God and her dear neighbor.
Sister St. Claude Lenox, CSJ died on February 1, 2023 in the 74th year of her religious life.