The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary were founded in Cork, Ireland, in 1775 by Nano Nagle, primarily for the education and service of the poor. In 1874, Mother Joseph Hickey and eleven other Presentation Sisters left Ireland to come to New York at the invitation of the Reverend Arthur Donnelly, pastor of Saint Michael's Church. Before embarking on their long journey, the missionary band knelt at the tomb of their foundress to seek her blessing. Their steamship, City of Paris, reached New York on September 8, 1874. Soon after their arrival, the Sisters began their work of teaching in the still-unfinished school on West 31st Street, "amid bricks and mortar, dust and workmen." The first enrollment was 600 children.
Staten Island was a flourishing area in the early 1920's and the parishes were being formed quite rapidly. St. Patrick's Church became the Mother Church to three Mission Churches, namely, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Charles and St. Clare's.
St. Clare's Parish, even then, had the tremendous cooperation of their parishioners and they were concerned about the education of their children. The Pastor, Father Charles Parks approached the Community of the Presentation Sisters and arranged for the beginning of the Catechetical Program.
In 1922, the Sisters started the program in a hall on Giffords Lane. This little Mission Hall was to mark the beginning of a most fruitful educational system for the parish. When Father Charles Parks became ill it was the responsibility of his assistant Fr. McDonnell, to look in on the Catechetical Program. His report back to Fr. Parks was "it is like Bethlehem, with the Sisters in charge of the Hall and the 200 plus children. The pioneer, spirit of the first three Sisters, Mother Vincent, Mother Dominic and Mother Aloysius is to be applauded. , Indeed, it was their foundation upon which other Presentation Sisters were to, continue to build successful programs for the children.
On July 1, 1935 Msgr. Farrell blessed the school grounds and the school opened in 1936. Mother Dominic became the first principal and the Presentation Sisters have continued to be involved in the school to the present time.
The Sisters traveled by bus from St. Michael's, since there was not a Convent in the Parish. The first graduation ceremony was conducted in 1938 and the Mother's Club was started in 1945. The parish children and parents were involved and responsible for the care of the buildings and grounds. They took great pride in their work and it became their special ministry.
In November of 1961 a house was purchased for the proposed Convent. When the alterations were completed the parish had a sixteen room Convent. The building was awarded an Architectural Award and was named as the best new building on Staten Island. The Convent doors were opened in 1963. To the delight of the Sisters, they would no longer have to travel from Grymes Hill and endure the terrible road conditions in inclement weather. Parishioners had banded together to save their plaid stamps and green stamps. They traded in these valuable stamps for the furnishings of their new Convent and needs of their beloved Sisters. All the items that were needed in a kitchen or a sitting room were provided. The cabinets were stacked with dishes, pots, utensils, etc. Bed linens were secured and the closets proudly stored towels, blankets, etc. When the Sisters moved in they even remember that the Moms had made the beds so that each Sister would feel most "welcomed."
The Sisters enjoyed many happy events in the Convent and loved being so close to the people. Fr. Hicks was a frequent visitor to the Convent when he would bring in parishioners to celebrate special liturgies. These were always pleasant and welcomed events. There has always been a most open and enjoyable relationship with the clergy of the parish.
With the arrival of Msgr. Murphy the Convent received some special attention to keep the facilities in good order. He was always trying to make things easier for the Sisters and often speaks of the joy it is to have the Sisters in the parish. He has been most generous and considerate of the Sisters. We are grateful for the appreciation of the ministry of the Sisters over these many years and for the continuing ministry to the parish.
On December 31, 1999 the convent was rededicated. The rededication would now use the former convent as the St. Clare Presentation Center which is now home to the many dedicated lay staff members who work to carry on the legacy of the Presentation Sisters in the ministries to St. Clare's parishioners.
Sisters Who Have Ministered at St. Clare’s
M. M. Aloysius
About Us >