Sr. Claire McGowan, OP

2011 Golden Jubilarian

Sr. Claire McGowan, OPWhen Dominican Sister of Peace Claire McGowan, OP, reflects on her Golden Jubilee, she says, "It has been a privilege to have been able to live this life for 50 years. I am grateful for every bit of it!"

In her earlier years of ministry, Sr. Claire served as a teacher in schools in Kentucky, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and Illinois. After completing graduate school in theology and psychology, she taught for five years at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, supervised clinical pastoral education, served as a counselor in a women's program in South Boston, and maintained a pastoral counseling practice for religious. In 1992, Sr. Claire was assigned as an itinerant minister in Central America. While being immersed in a different culture was challenging, Sr. Claire shares that it was a life-changing experience; her eyes became open to a more global reality and especially to the gifts and strengths of those who live with less material resources in the developing world.

Discerning a change in ministry in 2002, Sr. Claire felt called to give the rest of her life to working to reverse the planetary crisis, integrating spirituality with care of God's creation. After pursuing graduate work in the Earth Literacy Program at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (Indiana), she founded New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, a nonprofit organization working to build a sustainable rural community in Kentucky, in 2005. The organization promotes sustainable thinking and development, including encouraging local food systems. Sr. Claire and the other Pioneers also work to promote and educate the community on soil, water, and energy conservation, air quality, community resilience, strengthening local economies, and the spiritual values that enable transformation.

In reflecting on her personal experience as a Dominican Sister, Sr. Claire admits, "Being a Dominican isn't always easy and we don't always live up to our ideals, but the charism and tradition is a powerful movement in the world when taken seriously." Through it all, her passion for God, study, the natural world (especially her garden), her friends from various walks of life, and the Dominican community have all helped to sustain her enthusiasm and commitment to religious life.

In each significant step of her life, Sr. Claire has tried to listen attentively for God's call and direction. Through her creativity and inventiveness, zest for life, and openness to the natural world, she has experienced each decade of her life as better than the previous one. "I'm one of the happiest people that I know," she proclaims, "which is a great thing to be able to say about one's life. My choices, not without struggle, have brought me deep meaning and contentment. Were I to die today, I would have no regrets except for my own failings."

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Preach Peace... Build Peace... Be Peace.