Sister Stories

Sister M. Claudette Naylor, IHM: Don’t stop questioning

What a joy to spend retirement with one's best friends!

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein
Claudette Naylor

Sister Claudette has always been in love with the sciences. When she was young, she wanted to be an astrophysicist (to study the formation of stars, planets and galaxies) and, though in her 90s, last week her latest issue of Scientific American arrived!

She was born in Chicago and given the name Barbara Suzanne. Sadly, her mother died only two years later from pneumonia. Barbara spent two years with her aunt and uncle while her father continued to work for Montgomery Ward in Chicago. He remarried and Barbara joined her father and step-mother in New Jersey close to New York City where Montgomery Ward also had offices.

A bright student, Barbara applied for and received multiple full scholarships, including one to Marywood. Tragically, her father died shortly after her graduation from high school. Barbara struggled with coming to college, as her step-mother now had young children to care for at home. However, she did have that full scholarship and, if it wasn’t for that, Barbara Naylor might never have met the IHMs.

Barbara entered the IHMs after her freshman year at Marywood because, during that first year, a number of people and events influenced her vocational choice. She found like-minds in her IHM science teachers–Sisters Augustus and Maria Laurence. Like many, attending a profession ceremony sealed Barbara’s decision. Though she was glad to find IHM scientific minds, she really wanted what she observed IHMs had – JOY. Getting through the novitiate was made easier when she became friends with Sister Bernardinus (Gloria Frank), another IHM scientist.

Now, Sister Claudette, she was able to complete enough courses during her novitiate, that (in addition to her freshman coursework) she was able to take first vows in August of ’55 and begin her first mission in Syracuse, NY, in September.

Claudette Naylor

Her first degree was a BA in English. It was two years later that she began taking science courses during summer school and on Saturdays at Marywood. Later she studied at Villanova University where she earned a MS in secondary school science and at the University of Wisconsin where she earned an MS in teaching physics. By 1963, she had reached a major goal – as a full time high school science teacher. Next, she began an important fourteen year ministry at Maria Regina High School on Long Island. There she met the two IHMs that would become lifelong friends – Sister Catherine Anne Mullaly (the mathematician) and Sister M. de Montfort Babb (the geologist)! From my observation, their friendship has all of the qualities of the scientific mind and the curious soul. I’ve observed close friendships before, but never among such likeminded women.

Though not her preference, Sister Claudette did accept an assignment to be the assistant principal and then principal at Bishop O’Hara High School in Dunmore. After four years she returned to her joy – the science classroom at Holy Cross High School in Delran, NJ, where she remained for twenty-three years!

In 2018, Sister Claudette returned to the IHM Center to ministries in both the EEI (tutoring in secondary science) and support services.

Sister Claudette now resides at Our Lady of Peace Residence where she has abundant opportunity to meet at the “Curiosity Club” with her lifelong friends. What a joy to spend retirement with one’s best friends! It’s been a delight to observe!

de Montfort Babb, Catherine Anne Mullaly, Claudette Naylor
The “Curiosity Club” L-R: Sisters M. de Montfort Babb, Catherine Anne Mullaly, and Claudette Naylor

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