York Woman Left Promising Acting Career for God
Elaine Ryan/Sister Mary Clare
St. Joseph’s Convent outside of Columbia is closing. The convent building has been sold, with plans to turn it into affordable housing for either single mothers or seniors. The Sisters there, members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ community, must move to another building on the property.
The York County connection? Sister Mary Clare, a long-time resident of the convent, started out life as Mildred Reineberg of York and took a roundabout route from here to there.
Mildred, a talented actress, started out in summer stock at nearby Mt. Gretna. She took the stage name Elaine Ryan and went on to New York, where one of her roles was playing Laura in The Glass Menagerie. A screen test was followed with a move to Hollywood, where she appeared with Clifton Webb and Shirley Temple in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College.
Elaine Ryan and Clifton Webb in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College
According to an article in the Dec. 1970-Jan. 1971 issue of Careers With Christ, Mildred/Elaine’s acting career looked bright, but she came home to think about what she really wanted in life. She had always been very impressed with her eight grade teacher, a Franciscan nun. Attending a retreat at St. Joseph’s in Columbia helped her make up her mind, and she joined the order of teachers and nurses, taking the name of Mary Clare.
After teaching at various schools over the country, Sister Mary Clare came back to the area as Vocation Directress of the Eastern Province, based at Columbia’s St. Joseph’s convent and motherhouse, just a short distance from her childhood home across the Susquehanna in York, the end of a long journey.