Pope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life be celebrated throughout the world, a time dedicated to the faithful whose vows of poverty, chastity and obedience serve to illuminate heaven on earth. To help mark this occasion, The Catholic Sun is featuring each month members of religious communities who serve the Diocese of Phoenix.
Religious community: Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity
Community charisms: Disciples of Jesus through Mary living in Marian-Trinitarian communion
Current role: Social studies teacher
When he first heard God’s call: Seventh grade
Final vows: Aug. 5, 2012
Sr. Mary Claire Strasser teaches fifth- through eighth-grade social studies at Most Holy Trinity Catholic School. She grew up in a close-knit family on a dairy farm in Nashville. The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) community she belongs to was founded in 1958 as a Society of Apostolic Life and is composed of priests, brothers, sisters and laity living as disciples of Jesus through Mary.
The Catholic Sun: When did you first realize God was calling you to consecrated life?
Sr. Mary Claire: Probably seventh grade. It’s hard to distinguish between that and my initial encounter with the Lord; I thought about it in eighth grade and all through high school. I was very close to my grandfather. He was sick in the hospital and the first thing I did was to pray the rosary. He survived — it was an answer to a prayer and the first fruit of my own prayers…. In high school I remember being in front of the Eucharist and having a deep peace. I knew there was something in my life that was only satisfied by God.
What story about your vocation journey stands out?
Sr. Mary Claire: When I was a sophomore at Steubenville (Franciscan University), I studied in Austria. We had classes four days and could travel three days. I saw St. John Paul II seven times … just being in his presence you knew you were loved and that he was a saint. That semester in Austria was formative. Standing in St. Peter’s Square and experiencing the universality and the catholicity of the Church — it helped me see the world was so much bigger than me and the Church was so much bigger than me.
Why did you choose SOLT?
Sr. Mary Claire: When I was in Rome I met the SOLT sisters there and I knew I was home. It was very family-oriented. They treated each other like family and we are very much like brothers and sisters serving in the mission. There are three SOLT priests here at Most Holy Trinity. We pray the rosary at 5:55 a.m. followed by Morning Prayer and Mass. We also have an hour of adoration each day.
What has been the most fulfilling about your life as a SOLT sister?
Sr. Mary Claire: I think the most fulfilling thing as a SOLT sister could be summed up in “communion.” First, moments of communion with our Lord, and then moments of communion with others — whether it’s family, community, friends, my students or those Our Lord makes part of my journey or asks me to serve. That joy of communion is a little foretaste of heaven — which is what being a religious sister is all about. We are supposed to live the way we are going to live in heaven.