(Pictured above: a handwritten copy of Clara Cyr’s famous Chicken and Noodles. This was also served at dances before young men went to war and many other events.)
Sunday. Sabbath day. A day of rest and a time to reflect on the blessings that God has given. A chance to sit quietly before the Lord and give thanks.
Unless your house is about to overflow with a visiting priest, a couple of young acolytes, and a few Sisters, for good measure. Oh, plus the friends from out of town. All are expecting a big, satisfying lunch after you all return from Mass. Not to mention that this is before the time of take out and pizzarias. And there isn’t enough money in the budget to take everyone out to eat at the local diner.
All you have is one little chicken, a few veggies, flour and water. What do you do?
Me? Oh, I’d cry. I’d be a big ol’ puddle of tears in the middle of my kitchen, feeling more than a little sorry for myself. But Clara Cyr, the great, great grandma I barely knew, took it all in stride.
Clara and her husband, Eli were known for their widespread generosity. If there was a need in the community, they would provide any help they could. They didn’t have a lot in the way of money, but Eli’s philosophy was, “God’s generosity cannot be outdone,” and he was a firm believer that as they blessed others, God would, indeed bless them in return.
Because of this spirit of generosity, as well as their faith in God, Eli and Clara served their community and church with their whole hearts. Eli, putting his carpentry skills to good use, even built the first Catholic church is Warm Springs, Oregon.
Clara, meanwhile, served by cleaning the church weekly, washing and ironing the linens and altar cloths and putting up fresh flowers. In addition to all this, she also opened her home to every priest or nun who came to Maupin, feeding them and providing them shelter overnight.
So what did Clara do as she sat in church, that Sunday morning, realizing that she was going to be feeding more people than she’d expected? She did what she always did. She set her mind to making noodles, cooking the chicken to perfection and providing sustenance for her friend’s bodies and souls.
(Pictured above – In front of St. Mary’s Church in Maupin, Oregon November 5, 1967. Left to right: Lila Lee Barr, Mabel Morris, Clara Cyr, Leo Hammel, Teresa Barr, Harold Barr, Madeline Hammel, Kerry Barr, Father Peter Duignan)
In 1967, Clara was awarded the Pro Ecclisia Pontifice Medal and plaque from Pope Paul for her years of service and generosity. At the time, it was only the 8th award like this to be given in Oregon. Her faithfulness to God, her family, her church and community is the true epitome of a giving and lovely heart.