SISTER FRANCIS CLARE (HELEN MARIE) de GRACIA, OSF
Sister Francis Clare went home to God on Friday, November 24, 2017 at the Franciscan Villa in Syracuse, New York. Sister was born in Schofield Bks., Oahu, Hawaii to Carpio and Antonia Abuyen de Gracia. She was 89 years old and had been a Sister of St. Francis for 68 years.
She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies from LeMoyne College and Master Catechist Certificates in California and Peru. In 1946 before entering the convent, she had received her private pilot license certification in Hawaii. Her ministry as a sister found her teaching in schools in New York and Hawaii. Then, starting in 1967, came the true love of her life – missionary work in Peru. She returned to Old Mission in Capistrano, California in 1981 for a brief time of 2 years and then it was back to Peru. Sister worked there for over 40 years and even helped to build a Montessori school (Santa Rosa de Lima) in Quebrada Verde Lima, Peru which was recently renamed Escuela Francis Clare in her honor. She also tried helping the Peruvians to build a bakery so they could help to support themselves.
Sister died as she lived – quietly and peacefully – slipping away into the Lord. She will be remembered for her beautiful smile, her gentleness, her true missionary spirit, prayerfulness, love of and devotion to family, her lifestyle showing the Franciscan ideals of poverty and simplicity and her tireless efforts for the people and children of Peru.
Sister was pre-deceased by her parents, and two brothers Jito and Ralph de Gracia. She is survived by her sister, Dolores (de Gracia) Ranum of Oregon, several nieces, nephews and cousins and the Sisters of St. Francis.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 7 pm in the Franciscan Villa Chapel, 6900 Buckley Road, Syracuse, NY 13212. Calling hours will be from 3:30 to 6:30 pm in the Chapel. A farewell service will be held at 8:30 am on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 in the Franciscan Villa Chapel. Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Mission Advancement Office, 6900 Buckley Road, Syracuse, NY 13212.