2014 Jubilarian – Antoinette (Jean Clare) McNamara
Sister Antoinette McNamara joined the IHM community after having been introduced to an IHM Sister by a friend. She grew up in Chicago with her three younger sisters and had been taught by another order of sisters.
After graduating from high school, she joined the community when the IHM Sisters in her area went to the Motherhouse in Monroe for the summer. She recalls being a part of a wonderful class during her novitiate years and remembers picking berries and string beans at the community’s farms. “Strawberries were the worst because you had to get down on your knees. We picked boxes and boxes of them,” she notes.
Sister Antoinette’s first mission was at St. Agnes in Detroit where she taught first- and second-graders. Then she went on to teach at Our Lady of Help and Gesu, both in Detroit. She spent three years teaching at St. Michael the Archangel in Miami before returning to Michigan to teach at St. Mary in Mt. Clemens.
While there, there was a fire at St. Mary School. “The church caught on fire when the workmen were using a blow torch. The next thing the fire alarm went off.” Sister Antoinette said she and the children had to stand outside for quite a while. Following the fire, classes moved to Dickerson School while repairs were underway, and the sisters had to move out of their convent and live at another convent nearby.
After teaching in Mount Clemens, Sister Antoinette taught at St. Boniface and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Detroit before moving on to teach high school in Chicago. While there, she earned her master’s degree in library science from Dominican University and became a librarian at Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, Ill. She also served as librarian at St. Mark in Cleveland and served as secretary at the Ministry Resource Center in Chicago and St. Mary Conference Center in Monroe. Once she retired, Sister Antoinette volunteered in the library at the Motherhouse.
She embraced the changes brought on by Vatican II and liked that Vatican II afforded her the opportunity to be closer with people and grow in her faith. Her greatest joy since joining the community is “being with people and the whole group. We always have a lot of fun together.” Sister Antoinette is happy to have her younger sister as a member of the community.