2015 Jubilarian – M. Corita Lear
Sister M. Corita Lear was born in Ford City, Pa., the second of six children. When she was 5 years old, the family, which included an older and a younger brother, as well as a younger sister, moved to Akron, Ohio.
There, she attended St. Paul School and was taught by the Dominican Sisters, one of whom mentioned to her when she was in third grade that she thought Sister Corita had a religious vocation. She liked the idea, and whenever she misbehaved, her mother only had to remind her about becoming a sister and the behavior stopped.
When the family experienced financial problems, they moved to an area of Akron served by St. Mary Parish. It was here that she met the IHM Sisters.
The summer before her second year at St. Mary, high school Principal Sister Delphina Schonhoefen invited Sister Corita to visit Monroe. She was impressed by the Motherhouse and by the sisters. Although it was difficult to say good-bye to her family, she entered the IHM community the following June, when she was 16. She finished high school at St. Mary Academy and became a novice the following year.
Her first mission was teaching kindergarten, first and second grades at St. Mary in Marshall, Mich., for a year. She spent the next 16 years teaching at elementary schools in Michigan and Ohio. When her mother became ill, Sister Corita sought other positions to be near her. As a result, she lived and worked with different religious communities, which she describes as “a broadening experience.”
After teaching for more than 30 years, she served in pastoral ministry at St. Gregory the Great Parish in South Euclid, Ohio, for 10 years. She was able to spend time caring for her mother, who lived in nearby Cleveland, until her death in 1988. Sister Corita completed a program in apartment manager training and was serving as assistant manager and activities director at an independent living facility in Northfield, Ohio, when one of her brothers became ill. She moved to Florida to help her niece care for him while ministering to older adults at a nursing facility.
Sister Corita “retired” at age 70. She remained in Florida and stayed busy, caring for other family members after her brother’s death and volunteering at St. Giles Manor and Sacred Heart Church. She traveled to Rome on a pilgrimage and stayed active in pastoral ministry, bringing the Eucharist to homebound and hospitalized people.
“God opened doors to new opportunities each day, such as ministry to the homeless and those in prison,” she says. She viewed her volunteer work as “a ministry of presence,” meeting the spiritual, as well as the physical, needs of those she encountered.
She moved back to the Motherhouse in 2006. She describes her life in terms of daily rhythm. Her early years were her sunrise; her later years, sunset. “God’s gifts,” she says, “were broadening my horizons all down the years.”