This is a translation of the original In-Memoriam which may be found at:
A Memorial Mass was given for Sister Clarissa on Saturday, May 20th.
Society of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent DePaul Zagreb
Sister Clarissa died at the Mother House in Zagreb.
Verica Zbodulja (who was transformed into our beloved Sister Clarissa), was born on November 1, 1945, in the small Zagorje village of Purgi near Lepoglava.
She was the first of five children born into the pious Catholic family of Mrs. Magda Tvaro and Mr. Alojsa Zbodulja.
Even before she started school, Verica received guidance and religious instruction from her pious grandmother, who stayed with the children at home while her parents worked.
Getting to the Mass and receiving Holy Communion every morning before school was very important as well as praying the rosary as a family and many other devotions dedicated to family.
Verica’s pious upbringing created a solid foundation which led to her decision to choose a devoted life.
So, in January of 1961, she decided to dedicate her life to the Lord as a sister of the religious order at Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul congregation.
And after a short period of time, to Verica joined her younger sister Đurda, sister M. Konzolata.
Sister Clarissa first started her Novitiate and received her Religious habit on August 15, 1963.
Her first religious vows she promised on August 16, 1964, and Perpetual Religious vows she had on August 15, 1969 when she promised to follow the Lord as a Religious sister for her entire life.
After her first religious vows, Sister Clarissa begin to attend the Institute for Sacral Music.
Although she loved her school, she did not finish it because by the encouragement of Mother General Ancila Buntak she followed her call to become a missionary.
Sister Clarissa was called to be a missionary by the encouragment of Mother Ancille Buntak.
Thus on August 23, 1967 with two other sisters she flew toward the United States.
All beginnings are difficult, so it was for even Sister Clarissa, and though she was young and polite, she was ready for all the challenges God sent to her.
First, English needed to be learned.
After that she served caring for patients and the elderly in a nursing home in Delphos, Ohio.
Next, she went on to the University of Buffalo for study.
After graduation, she worked in several Catholic schools during her 30-year career as a great teacher.
Then, in 1981, she spent time helping a newly established Croatian parish, the “Holy Trinity” parish, in Oakville, Canada.
While there, she founded and led a mixed singing choir that is still active today and helped with establishing the kindergarten and children’s catechism.
While working full time at school, Sister Clarissa was also working in the Croatian parish of “Our Lady of Bistrica” in Lackawanna, New York.
Sister Clarissa served as a Catechist and an organist, conducted the parish choir, edited the Sacristy, decorated the Church and set the Sanctuary.
In 1989, in cooperation with Sister Bogumil, Sister Clarissa opened a nursery school at the Delegation House in West Seneca.
Sister Clarissa worked for over 49 years, almost all her life.
She loved her Croatian homeland, her Zagorje and her family, but she also honored and accepted her sisters in the community from all parts of our world.
She respected and appreciated all other cultures, nationalities and religions with their diversity, and America had that in abundance.
Wonderfully gifted and devoted, Sister Clarissa used all her gifts, and tirelessly and generously put herself in the service of the school, the parish and her religious community, completely and without reservation.
For nearly five decades, Sister Clarissa crowned all church holidays and devotions, and our Croatian Church as well as the chapel of the nunnery were more beautifully decorated than the Bishop’s Cathedral.
If we told her she should not bother so much, because the flowers quickly wilted, especially in the summertime, she would just laugh and say: “Jesus and Our Lady deserve the most beautiful and best!”
She was a sister, caring and devoted, and despite her many duties she would offer help even in common affairs.
Especially, even when ill, her sickness did not not overwhelm her cheer which she offered to nurses.
Sister was unusually generous in the welcoming of guests, the needy or the poor.
If only everyone would listen and give everything to others with so many worries and love them because Jesus loves them.
Forever, Sister Clarissa will remain in memory of the many parishioners and members of their closest family, the children she taught, and even casual passers-by.
Sister Clarissa had special virtue: she was self-sacrificing, never to reacting with lust or jealousy to anyone else’s gifts or abilities.
This blessed Serenity would help others to develop God’s gifts to the highest limits and to use them for the greater glory of God and Mary’s honor and the joy of the community.
She was sincerely grateful for every service and help. She was deeply impressed during this brief illness by all those who visited her, and wanted to help her by doing some small service at home or abroad.
Sister Clarissa was open, honest and approachable, and was loved by children, parents, parishioners and even her nurses.
Sometimes when the mood did not lighten up easily, it would often take a joke or a tease, and she was often joking about herself.
She was glad to forgive or seek forgiveness, the sun had never set upon her anger.
Sister Clarissa was very persistent and there were no impossible obstacles for her.
She turned all her barriers into challenges, steadily and persistently during the struggle, both in external affairs and for spiritual growth.
She did not have time to talk, to play tricks, and so on, because she needed to plant the flowers, tend the garden, prepare and teach in the church, practice singing, paint and wash, and do household work in the parish.
It did not save itself and she completely gave everything to the place and duties entrusted to her.
She flourished where she was sown.
Her extraordinary devotion manifested itself to the Mother of God, and in recent years to the Mercy of God and St. Faustina.
And if she had been afraid, there was not much time for it during the last five years with regular prayers, and countless hours each day worshiping the Blessed Sacrament and performing personal devotion.
Asked why everyone must do it at once and why she did not schedule these prayers during the day, Sister Clarissa would just answer – “I must now!”
The decision to withdraw from North America and to close the community hit her hard, and it was difficut parting from those whose lives she touched, after fifty years of missionary work and of donating her whole being and all her strength and health.
In a short time after returning to Croatia, the disease had taken hold. Committed to the will of God, Sister Clarissa sensed her end.
She was patient in her suffering.
She wanted to spare others and was silent about her illness and wanted to follow the Lord who has given us so much.
Let the Lord, whose Mercy she has ever worshiped and to whom she prayed for all souls, reveal to her unmistakable mercy and bring her to the joy of the eternal Domain.
It is the Lord’s eternal reward for all the sacrifices and good that she had done for Him, to those in whom she met with His respect and love, and for all that she had in her love of Him.
God, may she rest in peace!
Družba sestara milosrdnica sv. Vinka Paulskoga Zagreb
Society of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent DePaul Zagreb
Provincija Bezgrješnog Začeća BDM – Zagreb
Province of the Immaculate Conception BDM – Zagreb
Frankopanska 17, p.p. 702
385 (0) 1 4830-239