Remembering Sister Claire Herlihy, OP

Sister Claire Herlihy, formerly Sister M. Bartholomew, a Dominican Sister of San Rafael for 64 years, died peacefully at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent in San Rafael on December 29, 2017.

The eldest of three girls, Claire Herlihy was born in San Francisco. Her family moved to El Cerrito where she graduated from El Cerrito High School before entering Dominican College and earning her bachelor’s degree in education. A year later she entered the convent and became Sister Bartholomew. She spent thirty years in the ministry of education, as a teacher and principal in San Francisco, Benicia, Reno, Monterey, Livermore, San Leandro, and Vallejo. She held a strong belief in the value of parochial schools, saying, “It’s the only place where children are free to talk about God with each other and to pray together.”

Sister Claire also spent many years serving her congregation as the Director of Personnel and as a member of two leadership teams. In 1988 she began a new ministry in St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Vallejo. In the tradition of Dominicans, she and Sister Lorraine Amodeo were a powerful twosome, overseeing the preschool daycare program, facilitating the St. Vincent de Paul program, managing facilities, and serving on the parish liturgy and hospitality committees.

A quiet person, Sister Claire was full of ideas and the strength to put them into action, often saying to others, “We can do this!” She was committed to serving the needs of those with little means. In 2001 she helped establish the De Paul Women’s Resource Center, which became a critical lifeline for women and children in Vallejo. As a member of the congregation, she was well known for both her keen humor and deep faith. She believed that her vocation to religious life was “fulfilling God’s plan in my life.”

Sister Claire was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her sisters, Jan Castillo (Mario) and Jean Worton (John), nieces and nephews, and by her Dominican Sisters.

A vigil will be held on Monday, January 8 at 4:00 p.m. at the Dominican Sisters Center, 1520 Grand Avenue in San Rafael. The funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. in the same location, followed by the burial at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia.

Memorial gifts in honor of Sister Claire may be made to the Retirement Fund, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Development Office, 1520 Grand Avenue, San Rafael CA 94901.