Sister Clare Bass serving women at Queen of Peace

clare bass 

Home Sweet Home

Sister Clare Bass brings hope and healing to the women of the Queen of Peace Center

By Patti Eischen

From the street, it looks like any other old home, so prolific in St. Louis. A big front porch. Tall windows. A playground and deck in the backyard. Once inside the back door, it feels like a typical home. A stroller and a toddler’s push toy are nestled into the corner. Monday afternoon television drones in the background. Laundry is being hoisted downstairs to wash, dry and fold. The familiar scent of cooked bacon lingers in the air.

But this is no typical home. This is a work zone. The work of living clean and sober is being taught and lived out here. This is St. Philippine Home, a substance rehabilitation facility.

One of seven locations of the Queen of Peace Center, the St. Philippine Home is middle ground for the women to press pause then restart their lives. With work, prayer and love, they find success by completing a program that helps them overcome the disease of addiction and assists them with budgeting, education, employment and wellness.

Sister Clare Bass served as a residential aide at the St. Philippine Home for two years and currently continues her work at another one of Queen of Peace’s sites, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Sister Clare describes her duties as “making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.” Others describe Sister Clare as a leader. Karen, a former St. Philippine resident who has graduated from the program, says, “She is so positive. I have learned a lot, and I take it with me. Because of the programs and Sister Clare, I have learned to love myself. I hold myself accountable now.”

clare bass

Hope and Healing

Sister Clare’s previous experience with the homeless taught her that the women are in need of healing and love. “That’s what I’m doing here with them. With so many of the residents, some have burned so many bridges. This place is their last hope.”

Society and people say that addicts do this to themselves— and they do—but it is a bigger picture than that,” Sister Clare says. “A lot of things lead to addictions—many bad choices and missing pieces in their lives and their upbringing. The healing of each resident is so important. I try to be that missing piece for them—mostly through example.”

You can’t leave out the spirit that she brings here," says Karen. “You see it in her character, without words.”

Gwen Donley, program manager at St. Philippine Home, says of Sister Clare, “Her ideas spread across this house into every corner.”

At the Philippine Home, one of the few rehabilitation centers that allow children to stay with their mothers, teaching parenting skills was a big aspect for Sister Clare. “I try to teach parenting skills by example,” she says. “When moms see this, it might not be obvious, but it does rub off. My actions impact mothers.”

"The healing of each resident is so important. I try to be that missing piece for them, mostly through example.” Sister Clare Bass

Sister Clare recalls one resident that arrived with her 2-year-old son. “Because of where she was, or wasn’t, in her recovery, she hadn’t really bonded with her own child. Soon after getting settled in and working her program, we could see she was beginning to bond with him.”

And that’s the message Sister Clare brings to the women: “Your life doesn’t have to look like it does now. You can make changes in your life.”

clare bass

Tools for Success

Sister Clare says, “The toughest part of this job is I can’t work the program for them. They have to do the work. But, we give them all the tools to succeed. Some choose to use the tools. Some don’t,” says Sister Clare.

One of those tools involve group meetings in three different programs: budgeting, gratitude and Living in Balance. The curriculum for Living in Balance was underwritten by a grant from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. And, the best part of the job for Sister Clare? It’s seeing the clients succeed.

“They just get it. They come to learn their addiction doesn’t define them. They get to move out of here and move on with their lives. They become independent,” she says.

"I hope that as a residential aide I can provide them with a calm environment, a calm home, because that’s what home should be.”

 

10/17

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