Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY
Sister Claudette LaVerdiere was born September 11th, 1938 in Waterville, ME. She first learned of Maryknoll when she was 13 years old and saw a picture of a Maryknoll priest in her geography book. Shortly after, she met that same priest, who got her a subscription to Maryknoll Magazine.
Sister Claudette entered the Congregation on September 2nd, 1956 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She pronounced First Vows on June 24th, 1956 and Final Vows on June 24th, 1965 both at the Sisters Center.
After her profession, she studied at Rogers College at the Sisters Center earning a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1967. That year, she received her first overseas mission assignment to Tanzania, East Africa. Beginning as a secondary school teacher in Mwanza, Tanzania, Sister Claudette’s grasp of spiritual matters, natural ability for building rapport with people different than herself. In addition her strength in organizing programs led her to be among those of various Christian religions who together fashioned “The Joint Syllabus,” a way of teaching Christian values in Kenyan public schools. The Kenyan government felt teaching its people a morality enable them to build a lasting, strong society. They had seen other countries formed without it, and did not like what they saw.
Their decision paved the way for Sister Claudette to be among those shaping the destiny of a nation that few people ever have opportunity to explore. It transformed her life in a way that still impacts everything she does as a Maryknoll Sister.
Sister Claudette then went to Mombasa on the Kenya coast where she worked on a team with Kenyans to raise people’s awareness of the implications of the Gospel in daily life.
In Nairobi, Kenya, having just returned from earning a Master Degree in Theological Studies at the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL in 1986 and a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) with a concentration in New Testament from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA in 1987, and in 2000, a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) again from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, she taught New Testament at Tangaza, a major seminary, preparing candidates of religious communities for priesthood and for missionary work in all parts of Africa.
For six years (1991 – 1997), Sister Claudette, as the elected President of the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation, visited and encouraged Sisters in their ministries around the world. She wrote the “Afterward” of Penny Lernoux’s book, “Hearts on Fire, The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters.” Sister Claudette’s book “On the Threshold of the Future,” was published at Maryknoll by Orbis Books.
In 2000, she returned to teaching seminarians in Nairobi. She was also able to give more time to Sisters and novices, who came from various countries to study in Nairobi; and to do some editing for the Daughters of St. Paul.
Returning to the States in 2003, Sister Claudette continued to share her gifts, giving retreats, teaching, and writing her newest book, “On the Threshold of the Future,” a book about the spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters. The book received second prize for Biographies at the 2012 Catholic Media Conference.
She was assigned to Bangladesh in 2013 where she instructed seminarians at Holy Spirit Seminary in Dhaka. She would not have wanted to be anywhere else. For her, this is where God had planted her, and she took joy in the enthusiasm she saw in the young seminarians’ eyes as she unpacked the Scriptures for them each day. In this task, and in every work she has done in her years with Maryknoll, is that ongoing desire to make tangible, real and livable a faith that continues to inform and transform her life and the lives of her students.
Sister Claudette was in Bangladesh just a few short years, when her colleague, another Maryknoll Sister, consumed with her responsibilities as principal and main instructor at Bangladesh Alternative Course for Human Advancement (BACHA) English Medium School. What began as a temporary assignment for Sister Claudette became full-time, and she relished the opportunity to help form young Bangladeshi men for the ministry. In 2000, Sister Claudette also taught at BACHA, which was started by the Maryknoll Sisters.
Sister Claudette returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY where she continues to give retreats and write.