Meet the Deaconesses S-Z
Clara Louise Schodts entered St. Faith’s House (NY Deaconess Training School) in 1910. Originally from Peekskill, she trained as a nurse, graduating from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. She was head nurse in the surgical department at Good Shepherd Dispensary on the Lower East Side for eleven years and was an active member of the St. Bartholomew’s Girls’ Club.
Schodts was set apart as deaconess on 9 May 1902 at the age of 40 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and accepted an assignment to St. Thomas’ Mission in Manhattan. She lived at St. Thomas’ House at 229 East 59th Street during her tenure at St. Thomas’ Parish. In 1913 Schodts organized the “Mothers’ Meeting” group at St. Thomas. The Sunday School at St. Thomas’ was also under her care. Deaconess Schodts served the people of St. Thomas until 1925, and in 1926 she accompanied Deaconess Susan Knapp on a trip to Europe. On her return to the United States, Schodts moved to Astoria, Queens, N.Y. She later served at St. George’s Church in Manhattan and at St. James on Madison Avenue. She was active in the Alumnae Association of St. Faith’s, serving at various times as editor of the bulletin, board member, treasurer, and president. While president of the Alumnae Association, Schodts raised funds to establish the first scholarship to the school. She was also on the Board of the Retiring Fund for Deaconesses from 1928 until her death. Schodts retired in 1935. She died on 27 October 1941, a few weeks before the passing of her mentor and friend, Deaconess Susan Trevor Knapp (see G-L) [research of Deacon Geri Swanson]
Clarine Woodward and her sister Sallie were both graduates of the New York Training School when it was at Grace Church, but Sallie did not become a deaconess. She remained an active member of the church, and she and her sister remained close.
Deaconess Woodward served at St. James' Fordham for close to thirty years. She presided over a Sunday School that served over 400 children in the early 1920's; she also lead Bible Study groups at St. James, but also at St. Mary's Manhattanville. In 1907, she founded the Evening Guild at St. James to give women who were too busy to meet during the day, opportunities to offer service to their parish.
In 1913 Woodward left Saint James' for a year to work in the Chinese Missions, and with her support a church was built in Wu Sing, a suburb of Shanghai, named after Saint James' Fordham. She also visited France several times, once on a sabbatical in 1930, when she studied French in the Normandy region. Unbeknownst to her at the time, in her absence the Alumnae Association of St. Faith's House elected her President. In prior years she had always been able to decline the nomination, but since she was not in town to protest, her election was carried out without a hitch.
Her tenure at St. James' Fordham was long enough for her to witness the neighborhood's transformation, from being a quiet semi-rural community far from the bustle of the city, to an urban area of newly built apartment houses accessible to growing families via New York City Transit System's IRT and IND subway lines.
She noted in 1921 that: "In spite of the many changes there is a large nucleus of permanent residents, (sic) many of our Sunday School teachers grew up in the parish." Woodward retired to Palo Alto California in 1937. She remained there until her death.
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