Thursday, October 9, 2008
Sister Mary Virginia Ann Cleves, S.N.D.
As you have probably read, Sister Mary Virginia Ann Cleves, fifth principal of NDA died on the day she wanted to die, Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. This was very significant for her since her brother and nephew are both Franciscans, and her sister, also a Sister of Notre Dame, is Sister M. Jeanne Francis. Sister's wake and Mass of Resurrection were at St. Joseph Heights on Tuesday, Oct. 7, and burial in the convent cemetary the following morning. Since Sister was so strongly associated with Notre Dame Academy, the administration here wished to honor her as well as call attention of the students to her significance for the school. Students were, therefore, asked to act as honor guard at Sister's wake, Mass, and burial. The response was generous and impressive. Students stood on either side of the casket during visitation and the wake, led the procession into chapel for the Mass of Resurrection, and lined the way to the cemetery for Sister's burial. This latter was done in the light rain of Wednesday morning, but the girls stood poised and respectful.
Did all these girls know Sister M. Virginia Ann? Perhaps a few did. Sister tutored well into the 2007-2008 school year until her health no longer permitted the exertion. She could be seen sitting in the foyer waiting for girls who needed help in math. But Sister's involvement with students of NDA goes back to 1961 when she began teaching in the Math and Science Departments. In 1971 Sister became principal and served in that capacity until 1986. After four years at Bishop Brossart High, she returned to NDA and again taught math, assisted/mentored teachers, and worked in the Alumnae Office until health problems forced her to cut back to just tutoring. A display honoring Sister M. Virginia Ann is currently in the school foyer, and includes, among other things, a list of things accomplished under her leadership as principal. It is hoped that this will give the students a better understanding of what Sister meant to NDA, and a model for a life of service that we wish all our students to emulate. We know that Sister is among our company of intercessors before the Lord whom she served so well.