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#WomensMonth: Sister Clair celebrates 50 years of service

August is Women's Month and the Highway Mail decided to spend time with Sister Clair Wade who is celebrating her 50th jubilee anniversary as a nun.

AFTER serving 50 years as a nun, Sr Clair Wade said she has had a fulfilling life and is at peace.

“I have done everything I ever wanted, explored the world and made a difference in many places, especially in the education sector. I have done everything I ever dreamed of doing and more.”

Growing up, Sr Clair said she wanted to have a family and children.

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Born in Boksburg, she and her family were forced to move to Zambia due to Apartheid which her father was totally against.

“I was teased a lot when I was young as my family welcomed people of all races.”

The 72-year-old said she thought she would pursue a career in nursing.

“My mother was a nurse and from an early age of 10 I spent most of my time after school helping out at the hospital.”

At the age of 13, Sr Clair said she knew she was meant to be a nun.

“I was not influenced, I went to a school retreat, I had all the intentions to go out and have fun just like a normal child but something happened that showed me that I was going to be a nun.”

Being an only child, Sr Clair said her parents were unhappy about her decision.

“I waited until I was 21. I went overseas and entered a Convent in Holland.

Recalling her first visit home, she said her mother was very confused. “She did not know how to address or communicate with me.

My father was understanding and told me he saw I was happy, and it was all that mattered.”

She said the tense atmosphere was broken when a cat jumped into the fridge.

“I swore. My mother laughed and said, ‘Wow I see you are still the same person’,” said Sister Clair with a smile adding that she does not normally swear.

A mother to all…

For three years she worked at the Catholic School, St Benedict School, in Pinetown in the remedial sector helping learners with challenges.

After three years she studied for a BSC in Science and also qualified in a Higher Diploma in Education at Stellenbosch University.

“By the time I finished, the high school at St Benedict was closed. I went to teach at a school in Ixopo for 15 years. I came back to St Benedict School and I was the principal for five years,” she said.

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It was during that time that the high school was reopened with the support of the congregation. From there she took up a post at Margate High School as an acting principal.

“When I started, the pass rate was so low. The school pass rate was standing at 45% and at the end of three years, the rate went up to 98%. I was very pleased by that.”

Sr Clair also lived in Russia.

”That was the best time of my life,” she said with a smile.

”I did and explored so many things. I taught at the mission, worked at the garden, I worked with the parish pastor to help build the parish. I had an exciting life,” she beamed with pride.

Looking back, Sr Clair said she is proud of how St Benedict School has turned out.

“It has a good balance and a caring staff, it is the kind of school I would enroll my children if I had any.”

At 72 years old, she still teaches Physical Sciences in the afternoons. She teaches matriculants who are struggling with the subject.

She added that she was proud of the difference she has made.

“It is so heartwarming to see the children you have taught making something out of their lives. The school principal, Dr Barbara Bowley was a learner of the school, the head of the Board of Governors was also a learner, and both of them are women. It shows that women are a very important part of our society,” she said.


Dr Barbara Bowley, St Benedict School principal with Sister Clair Wade.

Although she never had any children of her own, due to her teaching career, she feels that she was given a chance to play a mother role to thousands of children.

When the time comes when she can not go out and teach, Sister Clair said the one thing that she hopes she can still be able to do, is paint.

“It is something that I enjoy very much,” she said.

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