Larry, Clare

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                                         CLARE LARRY
                           Volunteer honored; over 60 years of service
                                      by Denise Berthelotte

Clare Larry, 78, is about to be rewarded for over 60 years of services to her church. Larry, of St. Joachim's Parish in Eel Ground, will be presented Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with the Bishop Dollard Medal of merit. "It's something you wouldn't dream of getting," said Larry, an elder in Eel Ground. Two other people in the province are also scheduled to receive it.

The medal, named after the first Bishop of the Saint John Diocese, will be presented by Bishop Edward Troy of Saint John. Recipients are honored for outstanding contributions to the life of a church. And Larry's contributions are nothing short of outstanding. She is a member of the regional team for Cursillo, a local Catholic organization, and has been a member of the parish council committee since it was formed about five years ago. Larry is also a member of the Charismatic Prayer Group of St. Mary's Parish in Newcastle. And she is also member of the Association of Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters in Newcastle.

Her children vividly remember her in earlier years walking to church from Eel Ground to Newcastle because St. Joachim's church on the reserve only served mass every second Sunday.

"The more people that get involved, the more it gets big," she said of volunteering and participation in religion. Larry said she always kept faith even when life was not as kind as expected. Her mother died when she was only four. One year later, she lost her only sister. Larry was born at Lennox Island in Prince Edward Island. She said her greatest influence in life was her father, who instilled faith in her. She has been living in Eel Ground since she was seven years old, leaving for three years at 13 to attend the residence of Shubenacadie school.

She started playing the organ for the St. Joachim's church when she was 18. Larry said the church had a wonderful choir of five men, but they left the group one by one as age crept up on them. "They were just great." Larry joined the choir after her father, Lamuel Bernard, took it over. She stayed until he passed away about 15 years later. Then she and her husband, Joseph Larry, 86, became caretakers of the church for many years.

                All the while she raised 14 children and saw four of them die. 

Larry said her life is built around faith. She emphasized the joy and the satisfaction faith brings and encourages everyone to "just say yes" when it comes to helping and contributing to parishes.

Source: Miramichi Weekend – September 29, 1995 This text is available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For more information, select the following link:

                                        CLARE LARRY
                                       By Judy Bowman

When you first arrive at Clare Larry’s home in Eel Ground First Nation, the first thing you will notice is her view of the Miramichi River, today a perfect mirror for the fiery autumn leaves. You can imagine this place in summer with the moon blazing a trail to her shore, or even in winter when the world is silent with snow and ice. At age 89, Clara has lived most of her life beside this river.

To enter the main house, you pass through the sun room, built by her daughter. Plants thrive in the sunny space. By the time you reach the living room, you will be able to identify the two vital priorities in Clare Larry’s life; the faith that has been a central part of her life since childhood, and the importance of her large family.

Each wall is adorned with pictures of the Virgin Mary. She displays a picture of Jesus, a restored and treasured keepsake, once owned by her father. Family portraits line the tables and shelves.

Clare and a friend beam from a large photo taken on the steep hill in Medugorje, in southern Bosnia-Hercegovinia, in 1992. Though she is now more fragile and older than the pilgrim in the picture, her warm welcoming smile is unchanged.

Initially, Clare had decided not to go to Medugorje. “When my friend called and asked me, I first said no. I thought that my husband Joe would be lonesome without me. But, my friends must have been praying for me. An hour later, I called back and said I’ll go. When we were there my friend and I didn’t know how we were going to make it up that hill but I told her, ‘We’ll do it, one step at a time.’”

This philosophy has been how Clare Larry has lived her life, a life of hardship, the challenges that a First Nation’s woman has to endure, and the personal losses of close family members. She is still doing it, one step at a time.

Born at Lennox Island, a First Nation Community on Prince Edward Island, Clare was one of two children of Agnes and Lemuel Bernard. At age four, her mother died. “My father couldn’t find somebody to look after us so he took us to an orphanage in Summerside, P.E.I. I remember when I didn’t want to stay and I screamed and cried until finally my father took me back. When we went home, I was in the back of the wagon sleeping. I woke up, and took the blanket off my head and when I saw twilight and all the lovely sky, I was so happy.”

Two years later, Clare lost her sister Margaret Mary. “The last time I saw my little sister, we were at the entrance of the orphanage. I saw her walking up the stairs holding a Sister’s hand. Since then, I thought it was like she was walking up the stairway to heaven. She died soon after with what they called the summer complaint. Later, my father told me he took me back because my mother had told him to look after me. She thought her other child would be alright.

“My father placed me with the Sark family in Lennox Island. The lady’s name was Elsie. She was a very kind and gracious lady who made me feel good about myself. And made me feel loved.”

When her father returned for her, they moved to New Brunswick. “My father said he had started it little by little, a few dollars here to buy a few things every day. But the people didn’t have much, they were very poor and so he lost his business. “My father decided to start another business, making potato baskets for a company on P.E.I. We travelled north up to Jacquet River where there was lots of ash wood to start basket weaving. For a living, he made the potato baskets, 2000 every year until the day he died. He took a stroke while he was weaving a fishing basket on special order.”

Clare’s father was one of the first leaders in her life. “My father worked steady, he was honest with his worker which he hired many times to meet his contracts, especially at harvest times. “My father had strong faith and although he never preached to me but when a need came up he always had a saying. He never missed mass on Sunday and shared his faith in meaningful ways.

“I remember when I was small and I used to ask my father what heaven is like. Can I get anything in heaven? Can I get to places in an instant? And so on. My father answered yes to every question. I have to smile when I think about it, which is often.”

Source: Miramichi Leader – November 20, 2006

This text is available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For more information, select the following link:

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