Sister Clark’s 100th Birthday Celebration: Friendship Is the Freest Love of All


Sister Clark on her 100th birthday celebration.

On Sunday, October 28th, the 100th birthday celebration honoring Sister Mary T. Clark took place at Manhattanville College. Sister Clark has long been a legendary presence within the Manhattanville community. A Manhattanville alumna, she graduated from the College in 1939 and went on to work at her alma mater for 44 years as an Assistant, Associate, Full Professor and Professor Emerita of Philosophy. She acted as the chair of the Philosophy department for 12 years, and the position is now named the “Mary T. Clark Chair of Christian Philosophy” in her honor. The event, which began with a Mass followed by a special luncheon, was attended by over 150 people including current and former faculty members, alumni of all ages, and students.


The beautiful Mass took place at the O’Byrne Chapel on Manhattanville College campus.

The Mass opened with wonderful words from Joan Magnetti, RSCJ `65 and Frances Gimber RSCJ `55 reading letters from Cardinal Dolan and the Provincial Team on this joyful event. The beautiful Mass was led by Father Wil Tyrrell and Father Joseph Koterski, S.J. At the end of the Mass, Professor Siobhan Nash-Marshall, the Mary T. Clark Chair of Christian Philosophy, delivered the closing remarks. “Sister Clark is a blessing to all of us,” Professor Nash-Marshall said before introducing Sister Clark’s speech. Her sentiment could not be any truer as Sister Clark’s inspiring speech brought tears to many attendees. “I’m more convinced than ever that your education has illuminated you to know what your human capabilities are and to allow your free will to be enlightened by the knowledge that you acquired, whether you acquired it in the classroom or by living the longest life,” Sister Clark said. “But what is visible here is that acquisition of your friendship because I value you all, not simply as former students and former faculty colleagues but I value each one of you and your uniqueness as a friend. And the love that comes from a friend is freer than any kind of love that could be discussed or written about.” Below is the video of Sister Clark’s full speech. You can also click here for the transcript.

Sister Clark giving an inspiring impromptu speech.

Sister Clark giving an inspiring impromptu speech.

The special luncheon had the atmosphere of a jovial gathering of old friends, full of laughter and good spirits. Professor Lisa Dolling `84, a former student of Sister Clark and now an adjunct faculty member of the Manhattanville Philosophy department, delivered a touching speech at the event. “Sister Clark has been a teacher, a mentor, an advisor, a confidante, and of course, a cherished friend,” Dolling recalled. “If I close my eyes, I can still picture Sister Clark lecturing on the legacy of the great philosophers, captivating us with her brilliance and insight. I still marvel at how she made the materials come alive for us.” In honor of her birthday, Professor Dolling made an extraordinarily generous gesture by donating her semester’s earnings to the Mary T. Clark Christian Philosophy Endowed Chair.


Professor Lisa Dolling ’84 on the influences Sister Clark have on her life and her career.

Over her extensive and inspiring teaching career at Manhattanville College, Sister Clark has undoubtedly remained a memorable figure for many alumni. “I can still remember what an excellent academic presence Sister Clark exhibited on campus,” Deborah Costello `72 said. Moreover, her legacy still continues to influence younger generations of students at Manhattanville College. Connor Scally `15, a member of the Philosophy Club which volunteered to help organize the event, commented on how the Mass was especially touching for him and remarked, “Sister Clark’s speech is truly inspirational as it touches on the core values of our college: love and loyalty.”


Professor Siobhan Nash-Marshall (second from left), Chair of the Philosophy Department, presenting the birthday cake to Sister Clark.

Click below for more pictures from this joyful event!

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