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The Voice of Mary Frances Clarke

The Voice Of Mary Frances Clarke

Mary Frances Clarke speaks to me. Though I am sure I would delight in the lilt of her Irish brogue, her voice usually sounds more like Sister Kathy Carr, Sister Peggy Nolan, Associate Norm Freund, or Sister Harriet Holles. Last week, I swear it was exactly like Associate Paula Schmidt’s.

Paula is the newest BVM associate at Clarke University. During our opening workshops, she addressed ways to offer our talents to new audiences. I heard her say, “We need to ask ourselves, ‘Who is it that needs us now?’”

“Who needs us today?” Do you hear the voice of Mother Clarke, too?

The question returned as I met our newest faculty members, soon to be immersed in our mission. And again walking with a new student whose biggest worry was how to find her classrooms. Then again as I sat behind 100 football players in Sacred Heart Chapel to receive a blessing during our Sunday liturgy. And all week as I met classes of anxious and excited students wondering what the years ahead hold for them.

Your voice, Mary Frances, looms, challenges, persists, blesses—wherever we are. Who needs us now? Indeed.

About the author: Sean Bradley, Ph.D. is a professor at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and is a BVM Associate.

Learn more about BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke:


This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. We were just thinking about this question at our cluster meeting in Chicago. Indeed, who needs us now.

    Thank you for capturing it again!

  2. Your reflection, Sean, brings me back to people and traditions at Clarke, where Mary Frances was / is a role model for all of us. How realistic and appropriate to pick up Paula’s question, link it with Mary Frances and
    each of us, as we ponder an answer and act! Thank you!

  3. Thanks, Sean, for your words of encouragement and challenge. So much today depends on our deep listening to others and letting what we hear lead us forward.
    Marilyn from Sunnyvale CA

  4. Ah, Sean, again, it is wonderful to “hear” your voice! I can just envision the many new students, and new and seasoned faculty and students pondering this question. We are in so many unique places and situations – in each, who does need us now? I’m out of the loop of “new students” and new faculty. As I remember, you and so many others as “new faculty” during my years at Clarke. You are certainly wonderfully seasoned now. May you continue to pass on to both new students, and new faculty and staff the wonderful things you have taken in, transformed, and been transformed by over your many years being BVM Associate and companion on the Clarke faculty.
    Blessings on your year, on you, and on your family.
    Marge Clark, BVM
    p.s. let me know if you are ever out D.C. way!

  5. Sean, I was so happy to see that you heard Mary Frances in Sr. Harriet’s voice~~ me too! I miss her so much! 💙🌻

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