Grace was the second of three daughters born to Edward and Stella (Gunn) Corbett in Cleveland, Ohio. The virtues of faith, hospitality, and generosity were integral to family life, along with an appreciation of Irish heritage and culture. Grace was talented in sports, especially tennis and swimming. Blessed with a love of nature and a keen interest in science, Grace enjoyed camping as well as long hikes with friends, notebook in hand to record the names of plants, wildflowers, and the various species of birds they had seen. After elementary school, Grace attended Regina High School in South Euclid, Ohio. During her senior year, she decided to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. She became a postulant on July 2, 1958, and at investment received the name Sister Mary Foster.
With a Bachelor’s degree in education from St. John College, Cleveland, and a Master’s from John Carroll University, also in Cleveland, Sister Grace taught junior high students at various elementary schools in the Greater Cleveland area and Virginia for a total of 25 years. She served as principal at six different schools: St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton, VA; St. Thomas, Sheffield Lake; St. Anselm, Chesterland; St. Benedict and St. Stephen, both in Cleveland. An excellent teacher and competent administrator, she believed in each student’s ability, and showed God’s love to them in countless ways.
From 1988 to 1991, Sister Grace was a member of the Administrative Team of Metro Catholic School, a merging of three schools serving nine parishes on Cleveland’s near west side. She directed the moving vans and organized the unpacking of furniture, books, and supplies at the Boniface, Michael, and Stephen campuses. As one of four “Founding Mothers,” she was awarded a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa from John Carroll University in 1995. The citation praises the dedication of Sister Grace, Sister Regina Davala, Sister Virginia Reesing, and Ann Marie Winchester: “Formulating out of poverty a positive plan, you organized parents fearful for their children’s care, unlocked skeptical hearts, fused collapsing parts to a new dynamic dream…even cities can have splendid schools.” After her retirement from full time classroom teaching in 2010, Sister Grace spent the next 12 years as a Science Lab teacher and educational tutor at Notre Dame Elementary School, Chardon, and at Metro Catholic, Cleveland. Both schools have earned the National School of Excellence Award.
Sister Grace’s beloved family, her community, and many friends were always a source of energy for her. They became a comfort to her in these past months of declining health, as stories, photos, and remembrances were shared. In the early morning hours of November 18, as Sister Grace entered eternal life, the Leonid meteor showers were at their peak, with dazzling shooting stars crossing the sky. Not a coincidence, but a perfect tribute, as we read in the Book of Daniel: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who instruct many in ways of justice will be like the stars forever and ever.”
The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 28, at the Sisters of Notre Dame Center, 13000 Auburn Road, Chardon. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:15. Mass will be live-streamed. Go to www.sndusa.org. Click on the Chardon Regional Center.
To make a gift in memory of Sr. Grace Mary Corbett, please click here.