Sister Clarita Bourque, MSC

In Memoriam

On May 2, 2023, Sister Clarita Bourque, MSC, peacefully returned to the open, loving arms of Jesus, her gentle, loving Savior whom she faithfully served her entire life. Alice Clare was born on September 15, 1931 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the beloved daughter of Clare Lauman Bourque of Algiers, LA and Anthony Clifford Bourque of St. Martinville, LA. A proud resident of the best bank, the West Bank of New Orleans, she attended Holy Name of Mary Elementary and Sacred Heart on Canal Street High School. She entered the Congregation of the Marianites of Holy Cross on August 28, 1949, made First Profession on August 13, 1951 and pronounced perpetual profession August 13, 1954. She completed her Master of Political Science at Fordham University, New York in 1965.

An acclaimed educator by many of her students, she taught at the elementary, secondary and college levels, focusing on history, political science, and public-speaking. She taught at numerous Catholic schools including St. Rita, St. Cecilia, Academy of the Holy Angels, Our Lady of Holy Cross College (now University of Holy Cross) in New Orleans, St. John High School in Plaquemine, Academy of Immaculate Conception in Opelousas and Sacred Heart in Ville Platte, LA. 

Her contributions to the field of Social Work might best be described by Dorothy Day in the first issue of The Catholic Worker: “For those who think that there is no hope for the future, no recognition of their plight—this little paper is addressed. It is printed to call their attention to the fact that the Catholic Church has a social program—to let them know that there are (people) of God who are working not only for their spiritual but for their material welfare.” Serving on the staff at NETWORK: Advocates for Justice, Inspired by Catholic Sisters, in Washington, D.C. (1980-81) forged
many friendships and contacts which were helpful to the people of New Orleans and Louisiana. Much of her work was with those experiencing homelessness. One of the women who was a resident of Lindy’s Place recently wrote to say, “…when I came to New Orleans, I could have fallen
into a life of crime…. you gave me a hopeful future and literally saved my life.” Sister Clarita served on the staff of the St. Andrew Project, Hope House, St. Thomas Project and Incarnate Word Center. She co-founded/founded agencies for homeless families and women: House of Ruth and Lindy’s Place (named for Corinne “Lindy” Claiborne Boggs); and served as Executive Assistant at Unity for the Homeless/UNITY of Greater New Orleans, and Coordinator of the Marianite Bywater Project. One of the endeavors that she contributed to for many years is the annual Good Friday peace and justice walk through the Central Business District of New Orleans: Way of the Cross/Way of Justice. 

While engaged in active ministry, Sister Clarita also served her community, the Marianites of Holy Cross, in various roles: Postulant Mistress, Coordinator, Personnel Director, Provincial Secretary, Provincial Council Administrator, and Provincial/Congregational Chapter Delegate. She generously used her talent as a gifted writer/editor in various projects, most recently serving as Co-Editor of THE MARIANITE. Her wisdom, intelligence, social justice experience and way of living were gifts recognized both within and outside her religious community. Her gentle presence was built on a strong commitment to bringing the message of the Gospel into every arena of life. She was very proud to be one of the founding members of Pax Christi-New Orleans. Sister generously worked with individuals, prayer groups, parish groups, etc. in providing presentations and lectures on history, women, women in the Gospels, women Saints, Louisiana, and New Orleans with its varied celebrations, people and culture.
Getting to know Sister Clarita was getting to know New Orleans: Mardi Gras, Gospel Tent at Jazz Fest, catfish po-boys, neighborhoods, and history. Her knowledge of the culture of the peoples and neighborhoods of New Orleans was evident when she served as tour guide to countless number
of visitors, volunteers, new residents and those just passing through our city. 

As a life-long learner, teacher, feminist, activist and artist, Sister Clarita was prepared for retirement and generously shared all her life skills with others. When she moved to Chateau de Notre Dame Apartments in 2016, she volunteered to decorate the bulletin boards, organize seasonal
celebrations and give educational presentations to the residents on history, women saints and politics. 

She was preceded in death by her loving parents Clare and Anthony Bourque, and her Aunt, Rita Lauman. She will be missed by those who call her cousin, teacher, mentor, co-worker, friend, and sister. 

A thank you is extended to Ochsner Oncology Department, Yvonne, Dr. Eirinn Erny, all those who accompanied Sister Clarita in her last years, and most recently in her final days: the staffs of Chateau de Notre Dame Apartments & Nursing Facility, and Notre Dame Hospice. 

Sister Clarita’s parting challenge might be the words she penned in A Loving Remembrance in the Fall 2020 issue of THE MARIANITE:. “…I promise to pray and do whatever else I can to bring about change in our country so that we will treat all people with dignity and respect; that we will invite people of color to dine with us at the dinner table and at the table of equality; that we’ll offer others with ‘funny accents’ and other religious beliefs a ‘ride’ in our cars and an opportunity to attain their goals on life’s journey. After all, aren’t we all headed for the same place on this journey? …‘Alleluia, things are a changin’!’” 

Arrangements were as follows: Wednesday, May, 10, 2023 – Visitation from 9:00 AM with Mass
at 11:00 AM– at Jacob Schoen’s Funeral Home Chapel 3827 Canal St., New Orleans, LA. Her burial 
followed at the Marianite Mausoleum on the grounds of the University of Holy Cross. The repast was held
at University of Holy Cross Residence Hall, 1st floor, 4123 Woodland Drive, New Orleans, LA 70114
from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM.