Longtime Alaskan and servant to the church in the Fairbanks Diocese Ursuline Sister Maria Clarys died on Sept. 9 in Fairbanks.
Born in Belgium in 1936, she later attended school for fashion and design. In 1962 her life took a different course when she joined the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union at Boxtel Brabant, the Netherlands, where she made first profession on April 26, 1965.
After several years of study she departed the Netherlands to take a new assignment teaching at St. Mary’s School in the Fairbanks Diocese.
Sister Clarys taught art and home economics to junior high and high school students. During her 13 years there, she embraced the people, culture, language and the arts. From 1983 until 1996 she worked at St. Aloysius Catholic Church at Tanana with the Koyukon Athabascan Indians. She especially enjoyed spending time at fish camp.
In 1996, during a sabbatical year, she suffered an accident and could no longer do the physical work in the Bush. She stayed in Fairbanks, however, and continued to work in prison ministry while being with the Native people.
She loved to hear Native stories and was a known storyteller herself.
A funeral Mass took place on Sept. 13 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Fairbanks.