Franciscan Sister Claudia Cunningham dies at age 88

ASTON, Pa.—Franciscan Sister Claudia Cunningham died at Assisi House on Nov. 19. She was 88. A wake will be held at Assisi House on Nov. 25 at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. and interment at Our Lady of Angels Cemetery.

Cunningham-1952_Claudia116-Sister Claudia (Lillian Marie Cunningham) was born in Trenton, N.J., where she was a member of Blessed Sacrament Church and a graduate of Cathedral High School. Sister Claudia earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Villanova University and a master’s in religious education from the Catholic University of America. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia in 1950 and professed her first vows in 1952. Her sister, the late Sister Madonna Marie Cunningham, was also a member of the congregation.

Sister Claudia served most of her 63 years as a Franciscan in education and parish ministry. In the Diocese of Charleston, she worked at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lake City.

She spent 29 years in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where she taught at Saint Aloysius Parish School in Pottstown and at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls. She served in parish ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Doylestown and Epiphany of Our Lord Church in Philadelphia. During her last year at Epiphany parish, she also volunteered in various places, including Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Lima, St. Ignatius Nursing & Rehab Center in Philadelphia, and the Baby Cupboard at Catholic Social Services in Chester.

Sister Claudia also ministered for 12 years in the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware. She taught at Holy Angels School in Newark and later worked in pastoral ministry at Immaculate Conception Parish in Elkton, Md., St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington, and the FHS Care Center.

In the Diocese of Trenton, Sister Claudia spent 11 years in education, where she taught at St. Leo the Great, St. Raphael and Blessed Trinity schools.

During her six years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Sister Claudia taught at St. Stephen School in Kingsville, Md., and the Catholic High School of Baltimore. She also worked as a typist and driver for the sisters with whom she lived at St. Anthony Convent in Baltimore.

Additional ministry included St. Francis School in Allentown, Pa., and Holy Spirit School in Jacksonville, N.C. She moved to Assisi House in 2006 and served in prayer ministry until her death.

Sister Claudia is survived by her brother Richard Cunningham, her nieces and nephews, and by her Franciscan family. Donations in her name may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014.