(1939 - 2015)
Sister Sharon Culhane, known as Sister Thomas Clare, was born in Rockford, Illinois, on December 1, 1938. Her parents were Thomas H. and Clara (Holomany) Culhane. She was one of six children in the Culhane family: three girls and three boys.
Sister Sharon graduated from Bishop Muldoon High School in 1956 and a year later entered the postulate on June 26, 1957, at the age of eighteen. Immediately after profession in December 1958, she was sent to St. Augustin School in Des Moines, Iowa, to teach elementary grades and CCD classes after school. Her next five teaching assignments would be in Illinois.
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Memories of SharonI know this is probably too long for the website memorial piece, but I had to share it. Perhaps it’d be of interest to her current friends. Sharon was a gentle soul, and how I ever got her to join me in some of these (there were more!) escapades I will never know. I’ve thought of her and our fun times often. And I am so sorry to hear of her leaving us before she and I had a chance to reminisce. Have fun in your new blessed place, Sharon my friend.Sharon and I enjoyed a youthful friendship that began in the Siena art department. During one summer, she invited me to be her companion for a home visit to her brother in Red Lodge Montana. The big question: How to get there. I had some kind of connection with a sales vendor (probably Worlds Finest Chocolate!) who offered us a company car for our trip and a company gas voucher. We had easy access to AAA in Adrian just by walking to town, so we ordered maps, trip guides, all in the mother general’s name. The trip was such an adventure, but the two of us sometimes argued whether or not we should wear the (modified habits by now) veil. We decided veils off unless we saw flashing red lights following us as we whizzed through the Dakotas to the mountains. Mountain driving caused our dynaflow brakes to fail us several times, making it necessary on the downhill to squeeze the brake pedal to the floor and coast, white-knuckled, into a mountain safe spot. Arriving in Red Lodge, movie-set cowboy town right there at the foot of the mountains, those brakes gave out again, and we coasted again, this time to the street curb stopping just short of crashing into a parked pick-up. Brakes were gone; we needed a phone. By now, the veils were back on! into the nearest establishment we headed to phone her brother.... It happened to be the one and only town saloon. Every ten gallon hat sitting along what seemed an endless bar turned in unison, jaws dropped, to see two angels in white float in. Our second notable adventure occurred when we were both teaching in Chicago... she at St. Matthew, and I at St. Nicholas. I had been attending Saturday morning classes at the School of the Art Institute. On one particular Saturday, an exciting and rare exhibit opened at the Art Institute. As an art student with free passes to this exclusive private showing, I had called Sharon to invite her to be my guest. We both needed to request permission from our superiors for the afternoon out, so we had to “fudge” a bit. I told Sister Loretta Clare, my St. Nick superior, that my morning instructor encouraged his students to attend; not sure what story Sharon gave. Both of us felt that we wouldn’t get permission if we gave the real reason. We loved the magnificent exhibition. What an opportunity. But, we paid for our chicanery. Our “story” was exposed the following day with a full page of socialite pictures in the Chicago Tribune..among them: Sharon and I, big as life in white, admiring one of the paintings. Whatever the consequence back at our convents when we were found out, it was worth it!.I lost touch with Sharon for many years after I left the community, but reconnected briefly when she was in SC. Her bio did not mention that she, and her impact in Daufuskie, were included in an extended story and pictorial feature in December, 1987 National Geographic Magazine.
I met Sister Sharon during her stay at Sea of Peace House of Prayer on Edisto Island, SC. I was on retreat and she was very solicitous about my gluten intolerance. We became friends and would take long walks together. After she left Sea of Peace, we continued to talk and finally when she had to return to Adrian, I kept in touch with e-mail. I learned some new dimensions of photography from Sister Sharon and we shared common concerns about the poor, and peace and justice. She will be missed but she is in pain no longer and God has welcomed her into our heavenly home!
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
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