Sisters of Charity Federation Archives

Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC, interview [Excerpt]

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SCHalifax_Kehoe_photo_1.jpg

Text

Sisters of Charity - Halifax
Excerpt of an oral history interview of Sister Maria Clare Kehoe conducted by Sister David Marie
Campbell at Mount Saint Vincent Motherhouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1981.
Transcribed by Mary Flynn, Congregational Archivist in 2020. Additions in brackets are for
context.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Now there must be a few things in the West that you reallyS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
We enjoyed the West very much. Very often Father Coughlin would come take us over to
Ladysmith [British Columbia] then we went up Alberni, then another time we went up to St.
Joseph's Hospital and we stayed there over two or three nights. All over the island he took us.
He said we'd visit around a great many places. He thought that would be a good idea because
as we were teaching to know as much as much as you possibly could about what we werewhere we where and what we were going to do and our teaching. So we got many good drives
with Father Coughlin.
But Father Kennedy came after him. Yeah, he was just a very fine priest. He couldn't do enough
for us. I think we were the first ones- He got us a Frigidaire. We didn't have one. And he got us a
Frigidaire, put everything in it. And we were very, very happy. In fact, the Redemptorists were
wonderful to us, I must say. On our first Christmas, we had a... we put on a show, play. It was a
very beautiful one. I still have the pictures, I think the pictures of that play. And the people just
went out for us.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Who was in the play, the children?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
The children, the whole school, Point Grey. And we were then living at St. Helen's. We had 10
miles to go every morning to go to Point Grey. Sometimes we didn't get in there until 10 o'clock
on account of the fog. So we'd find perhaps one of the eighth grade girls in our classes looking
after or perhaps a Brother, one of the Brothers, because we had to go about 10 miles and byS. David Marie Campbell:
How would you go?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
By bus, of course. That took, that took- 10 miles, it took us a good while to get there.
Sometimes we would stop for about 15 or 20 minutes when some of the patches of fog would
be coming in very heavily. That lasted for one year. And then I believe that was going to... Sister
Rosaria was the Superior at St. Joseph's. And people, some Sisters were going to college and
she thought, she asked Father Coughlin if he would try and get a house for us out there so the
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Sisters could live there. A Sister was going to go- but she didn't come in the end but we got the
house. It was very lovely. It was a little grey house. It was only small, but was very, it was handy
for four of us.
Then finally we got from that house to a larger one called Noma Linda. Very lovely, up on a hill.
Beautiful flowers. They had everything, even fruit trees on the land whereas I believe they have
the new convent now. Our Sisters are still there. I loved that mission. It was very lovely.
S. David Marie Campbell:
I've never been west, so.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
No? Beautiful missions. In fact, all the missions were lovely there. Lovely there. We were very,
very united as one, all the houses, very united. We'd meet very often, someplace like the Seton
Academy, if there's anything going on. Sometimes lectures. I remember we had a couple of
lectures from Mr. Coady. He was the lawyer there. I believe he has relatives. I think Sister, Sister
David is one of his relatives. Yes, yes very close. He's a very fine, wonderful man.
And then we had... there's another place there that we used to go downtown at... the
McMasters. They had a tearoom. They're Antigonish people.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Yes.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And they were very kind to us, very lovely. Three, the three girls couldn't do enough for the
Sisters.
S. David Marie Campbell:
So thenS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I believe now they're all in heaven. Not any of them living. Now Mr. Coady is.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Yes. Mr. Coady is. I think Miss MacMaster, didn't she marry a McKinnon? Isn't she still living?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I didn't know that. I knew Mrs. Coady very well because she's from Lingan [Cape Breton, Nova
Scotia]. I knew her well, but I didn't know her.... I don't know aboutS. David Marie Campbell:
MacMasters.
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S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
No, no. Rose and Tina and Anna were the three girls. The MacMasters. They were very
wonderful people.
S. David Marie Campbell:
But when did you come back then from the west?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I came back... 1948. I taught 48 years without a let up.
S. David Marie Campbell:
48 years?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Yes, I came to Dartmouth [Nova Scotia]. I left Dartmouth '59. I came to the [Mount Saint
Vincent] Motherhouse for six months. Then I went to St. Mary's [Covent in Halifax, Nova Scotia]
in 1961. I had my hip operation. And then I was at St. Mary's and I tutored some of the children
for the school there in reading. I was... though I had a cane, I was able to do a great deal of
work. Then I came to the Mount here in '67 because they were going to close St. Mary's. That's
what I had understood but it was open for a year after. And when I came here, I also had a pupil
that came. I had two pupils that I taught reading to in the afternoon, a couple of hours. Finally I
had the second operation in August, that finally put me out of commission.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Not really.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well almost. I'm able to hop around now a little.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Yes.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
But then I had the operational on my knee. Two operations from on the 16th [?] 1976 and then
'78 on May 20th I had the other operation on the same knee. And yet I am I going.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You're going, yes.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And I am 93 today. Oh no.
S. David Marie Campbell:
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No you're not 93.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I'll be 93- uh 94 in May.
S. David Marie Campbell:
94 in May, yes, you're saying.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And I'm still going.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You're still going.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And I hope to... I hope to see...
S. David Marie Campbell:
Do you want to see 100?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Yes, surely I'll be 100.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Yes. That'sS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Why not!?
S. David Marie Campbell:
No that's right too.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I don't want to leave now that we're having such a good time.
S. David Marie Campbell:
But aren't you glad that you, you lived in the days where things were difficult and are... you
wouldn't want to be around these days?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Oh, I wouldn't want those over again. Not for a million dollars.
S. David Marie Campbell:
No, you wouldn'tPage 4 of 11

S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
No, no, no.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You wouldn't?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
No I think this is- you can do so much more for God when you're free. You weren't free then. It
was a bell here and a bell there and they were just ringing bells.
S. David Marie Campbell:
No that- no that's very true. Yes.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
What we didn't like very much was kissing the prie-dieux. You know. Everybody's hands were
on those and I very seldom did, I kissed my own hand.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You didn'tS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well I did because I felt the germs were on those. Everybody's hands on the prie-dieux. Of
course I did. I didn't think it was wrong. And then kissing the floor. I don't know, I neverS. David Marie Campbell:
Did you kiss the floor?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I didn't kiss the floor. I kissed my hand.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You didn't kiss the floor?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well no, no, Sister. The dust, the dirt.
S. David Marie Campbell:
I wouldn't have thought of that.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
You wouldn't have thought of it? I did. I think that's why I'm living so long. I gotS. David Marie Campbell:
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All the shortcuts.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I didn't get those germs going around.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Knew all the shortcuts.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I did. I had the shortcut. And I think the Lord approved of it, too.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Well you're very, you seem so, so terribly young, in your head.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I wasn't young when I entered.
S. David Marie Campbell:
No. And you are now. You're, you're certainly not, not any older in your mind.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well of course I'm not. Why should you be?
S. David Marie Campbell:
Well you're 93. You're almost 94.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Doesn't matter, dear. Doesn't matter. It's not the age at all. It's how you live. It's just that if you
want to live old, you're going to live old. If you want to be young, you've got to live young.
That's what I'm living. Young.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You're living young?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Yes.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You're still up to tricks.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I'm still up to tricks. I'll play them on anyone. I believe it's good for the soul.
S. David Marie Campbell:
It's good for thePage 6 of 11

S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And I love reading stories, especially murders.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Oh, that's terrible.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well I know, but they're good, they're good.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Can you sleep at night, if you're reading themS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Oh, I sleep well at night, dear. Have no troubles falling sleep.
S. David Marie Campbell:
You have good eyesight, your- that's another blessing, too.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
My eyesight is too bad at all. No.
S. David Marie Campbell:
It might be just sort of providential. You can't run around or God knows what you'd be doing!
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well that's just- I think that's what's happened. Never know what I'd do. Might just run yet, you
never know!
S. David Marie Campbell:
No, I thinkS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Miracles can be performed.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Well, the LordS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
The Lord can perform a miracle that I could I could walk again without anything.
S. David Marie Campbell:
[laughing] Why would He waste a miracle on you at 93?
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S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well why not? Every minute you live is for eternity.
S. David Marie Campbell:
For eternity?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well, of course.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Well I think you'll very- you do much better.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
The Lord- He sees that you, you know, you want to live and you want to be good. You want to
do more work for him. Why not? I still crochet and knit.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Oh, I know. That's what I mean. But He wants to- he's trying to hold your back!
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well, I know. butS. David Marie Campbell:
He's not having an easy time.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Why would He hold me back? I can keep going.
S. David Marie Campbell:
But Sister Maria Clare, you're so involved and interested in young people that you know, people
if people can come and talk to you as if you were as young as they are, young people, and
you're really not that young.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Well of course. I love that. I loveS. David Marie Campbell:
You enjoy young people?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I enjoy young people. Yes. I like young people. I don't like people that grumble and growl. I like
the young. I like that they're starting out because I just know how I was myself when I started
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out. And I feel like that now. I could be young all over again. And start out and be just like one
of them.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Yes. Well, I mean, it's, it's really it's wonderful for the for the young people too, becauseS. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I have a great many that come and I'm able to say some things to them.
S. David Marie Campbell:
And it really is another thing too- it does is for young, even young Sisters coming and talking to
an old, old Sister and find out she's not that old, old in her mind.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
No, I don't like that because I don't like them to say "old Sisters." I think they could say...
S. David Marie Campbell:
No I don't mean they say it but they're able to talk to an old Sister and find she's very young.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I say "senior Sisters." I don't like that word "old." I think that should be taken out of the
vocabulary completely. "Old sisters." I know a Sister came in the other day with a flower to me.
And she said, "here's a beautiful flower that a lady sent in to an old Sister." Well, I said, "take it
right out here, because it doesn't belong to this Sister." And she said, "Oh, but Sister." I said,
"now who was the lady?" She said "no, I don't think you know her."
Well, I said "you go find the old Sister and give it to her because there's no old Sister in this
room. Now please take it out." "Oh," she said "I'll leave it here for a while." Now that flower is
still there. But I'm telling her to take it and find that old Sister. And I hope she does soon.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Do you think there's any old Sisters?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I don't think there is.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Some people some people are old before their time. So if that applies to religious life, too.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I don't know Sister. I think... they must be suffering from some disease.
S. David Marie Campbell:
It's a person's temperament.
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S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I think, though they must suffer. I don't think anybody would feel old, you know? I think the
religious life, they have everything to live for.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Full life.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I think God is wonderful to call us to this life.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Well you, you've served- You've taught for 48 years.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
And if I had my life to live over again, I'd do the same thing. I'm positive I would.
S. David Marie Campbell:
What- did you teach... was it children you taught?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Oh I had beautiful children. Were they ever beautiful. Wherever I went, I'd tell them they were
beautiful.
S. David Marie Campbell:
What grades?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Grade 2, Primary. I loved grade two. Three, the beginners.
S. David Marie Campbell:
These are interesting.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I had three grades: primary, grade 1, grade 2. That was my class when I went to Vancouver. I
did enjoy them. They were just sweet to see it- just see them blossoming out, you know, the
little ones come to you. I often felt sorry for those who taught the older ones. They'd come
home dragging and worried looking and I was as happy as a lark after teaching those children.
That's sad today that there are not enough teaching going on with the little ones. And really it's
so- I feel terrible.
S. David Marie Campbell:
What do you mean, the Sisters not teaching them?
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S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
The Sisters not teaching. Oh Sister. There's where you get them. I had a number here in the
community. They remember from the time they were in my class I used to take them to the
chapel and make a visit with Him. And they remember that. I had a number here. Sister Ignace
Therese is one, Sister Agnes Bernadette, Sister Justa, that wonderful Sister, God love her! Oh,
there's so many I had. And who's this other, there's one up here. Sister...
S. David Marie Campbell:
Not Laura Brennan?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
Laura Brennan! Yes.
S. David Marie Campbell:
Did you teach her?
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
I remember saying that- I took her up to see the old Sister Ann Teresa that died. And she was
laid out and she asked me, "what was it she had in her hand? Is there a piece of paper, that roll
of paper?" And I said that was her passport to heaven. And she went home and asked her
father what it meant. "Well," he said, "that was the paper that her vows were on and she took
it to heaven." He knew about it. She's here. I meet lots of my pupils. But I said from the
beginning, I think that children should have teachers and I'm sorry the parochial schools have
gone out of commission. There should be more.
S. David Marie Campbell:
No, there's not very many now.
S. Maria Clare Kehoe:
They're not. That's a shame, Sister. We're not in contact at all with the children.

Page 11 of 11

Dublin Core

Title

Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC, interview [Excerpt]

Subject

Sisters of Charity of Halifax;
Teaching;
Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC

Description

Sister Maria Clare Kehoe (1887 - 1986) discusses her life as a Sister of Charity – Halifax. Sister Maria Clare spent 48 years as a teacher to grades primary to 4 and reminisces on her time spent at missions in Vancouver, British Columbia (1927-1948) and Halifax, Nova Scotia (1948-1981). Sister Maria Clare retired at 1959 from teaching and at age 93, is reflecting on her experience as a self-proclaimed “Senior Sister."

Creator

Campbell, Sister David Marie, SC; Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC

Source

Sisters of Charity – Halifax Congregational Archives

Date

1981

Contributor

Flynn, Mary (Transcriber)

Rights

Online access is provided for research purposes only. For rights, reproduction, and use requests or more information, please contact the Sisters of Charity – Halifax Congregational Archivist.

Format

00:16:23
Audio/mp3
Audio/cassette
Application/pdf

Language

English

Type

Oral History

Identifier

SCHalifax_Kehoe

Coverage

1927-1981

Citation

Campbell, Sister David Marie, SC; Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC, “Kehoe, Sister Maria Clare, SC, interview [Excerpt],” Sisters of Charity Federation Archives, accessed December 3, 2023, http://www.scfederationarchives.org/items/show/99.

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