Carletta (Colette) Margaret Greek a.k.a. Sister Mary Luke Greek, O.P.
Carletta (Sister Mary Luke), the first child of Claude and Mayme Greek, was born 3 February 1907
in Princeton, Gibson County, Indiana.
(She was born Carletta Margaret Greek but when she was about 14 years old she changed her name to Colette.) At the time of Carletta's birth the family was
living at 914 South Stormont Street next door to Mayme's parents, John Francis and Martha Sheridan.
who lived at 908 S. Stormont. Carletta's grandmother Martha
died there on 21 Oct 1910 and grandfather John Francis followed her in death on 30 Apr 1911.
Carletta, early 1909.
On 11 Oct 1911, six months after Grandfather Sheridan died, Carletta moved with her parents, her sister, Irene (born 1909) and her brother, Clarence (born 1910) to join Claude's parents who
were living on a 40 acre farm in Moreno, Riverside, California. At the time of the move Mayme was 3 months pregnant with Carletta's sister, Alice.
Irene (later known as Sister Colette) wrote a letter for her younger siblings giving some of history of the family's move from Indiana and their early years in Riverside. It is reproduced below:
Irene and Carletta, late 1909.
Some notes regarding Sr Colette's history:
1) Alice later wrote that " Claude worked at the So Rail there in Princeton it was
while working in the shops where he got iron filings in his eyes - which caused
eye trouble most of his life. At one time he had as many as a hundred ulcers in
his eye." (Life before OSHA.)
So Claude may have been incapacitated during the move to Riverside by vision problems as well as stomach ulcers.
2) "Grandma's (house)" where they first stayed was on a forty acre farm in Armada (what is now Moreno Valley, CA) near the intersection of present day Alessandro and Perris Blvds.
3) The orange groves and the Eureka and Florence ranches of Highgrove are now long gone. In Apr 1998 I took Mom (Alice) on an outing to try to find the location of her childhood home in Highgrove. I took her picture at what
seemed to her to be the most likely spot. (It is reproduced toward the end of Alice's first Scrapbook page.) Using Google Earth street view images, I place this picture as having been taken taken at the intersection of the present day Palmyrita and Michigan Avenues in Highgrove. This correlates nicely with Sister Colette's memory of her
father riding "his bicycle down Palmarita (sic) Ave" to get to town.
4) Urbita Hot Springs in San Bernardino was a very popular place for outings in those days. It was accessible by street car and the "Red Car" lines. It dried up in the 1940's and today lies beneath the site of the
Inland Center Mall alongside I-215 in San Bernardino.
5) On 28 May 1917 there was a magnitude 5.5 earthquake under the Imperial Valley in Southern California. It was probably this event that broke the enchanting violin and little Irene's heart.
Carletta (center) with sister Irene (L) and brother Clarence and Grandparents, John Henry and Mary Elizabeth Greek, in Moreno, Riverside, CA. Circa Oct 1911.
In the spring of 1912, Claude got a job
with the National Orange Company and the family moved into
a ranch house in Highgrove, Riverside, CA. Carletta's sister Alice was born on April 2, 1912.
Carletta (R) with sister Irene (L) and brother Clarence and Grandfather, John Henry Greek, in Moreno, Riverside, CA. Early 1912.
Greek family - summer 1912.
L to R: Carletta, Claude, Clarence, Mayme (holding Alice), Irene.
Among my mother's (Alice's) papers I found a narrative essay written sometime in the 1970s by Irene (Sr. Colette) in memory of her sister Carletta. Most of what I have learned about
Carletta's (Sr. Luke's) personality and life comes from this essay, parts of which will be reproduced below.
Carletta, Clarence and Irene circa late 1912
Carletta at her First Communion circa 1913.
Note: Carletta's first cousin Rosemary Sheridan of Princeton, IN,
did send a letter to Sister Colette (undated) that remembered Carletta "as a sweet and loving little girl, ready to console
you when you would hurt yourself or one of the other kids would tease or hurt you or some other kids around". Rosemary said Carletta was also
very attentive and protective of her baby brother, Clarence. (According to Google, Colette was actually a French Saint.)
Greek children, Early 1914.
L to R: Clarence, Carletta, Alice, Irene.
Greek family in Highgrove, Riverside, CA, circa 1915.
Adults-L to R: Charles, Claude, Mayme, Mont, Effie, Rose, Margaret (Sheridan) Johnson, Dave.
Children-L to R:Alice, Ralph, Clarence, Irene, Carletta with Charlie.
Charles, Mont and Dave are Claude's brothers. Effie is Mont's wife, Rose is Dave's wife and Maggie (Sheridan) is Mayme's sister.
Ralph is Dave and Rose's son and Charlie is Mont and Effie's son.
The Greek children at an outing in 1917 (most likely, Fairmount Park in Riverside). L to R: Carletta holding Ray, Alice, and Irene.
The Greek children on the ranch in Highgrove (Riverside), CA, circa early 1918. L to R: Clarence, Carletta, Ray, Irene, Alice.
At the time this picture was taken, Mayme was pregnant with Richard (Dickie) who was born on 31 Oct 1918. Two other brothers, Rolly and Bill, were born before Carletta finished High School.
Highgrove School class picture. Carletta is front 4th from left.
Highgrove School 8th grade class, October 6, 1920. Carletta is at front left.
Carletta at Uncle Roy and Aunt Mabel's house on Furst Street in Chino, CA, circa 1921,
L to R: Mabel, unknown (possibly Dale), Mayme, Roy, Carletta, Claude, Alice, and Paul.
Carletta with some of her 8th grade mates.
Carletta at her 8th grade graduation. Highgrove School, June, 1921.
In September, 1921, Carletta enrolled in the first class of the newly founded St. Francis de Sales High School in Riverside, CA. At that time she changed her name to Colette
8th grade graduating class Highgrove School, June, 1921. Carletta is front row 3rd from right.
During her Junior and Senior years in High School Colette was president of the Glee Club.
The Greek family circa summer 1923 at 766 Franklin Ave in Riverside.
L to R: Clarence, Ray, Colette, Alice, Claude, Mayme (holding Bill), Irene, and Rolly. Colette had just finished her sophomore year
at St. Francis de Sales High School in Riverside.
This picture of the St. Francis de Sales High School Glee Club was taken during Colette's senior year when her younger sister Irene, who was then a junior,
was also a member of the club. (Colette is 2nd from Left and Irene is 4th from Left.)
Going to work at the cannery.
The High School was so small that there was no year book as such, so each student kept her own book of memories. Some of the pages of Colette's book are reproduced below.
Alice's collection of photos from Colette's high school years.
It's clear from the above that Colette was an excellent student and was the Valedictorian for her class. The title of her Valedictory address was "Christian Education." Prominent among Colette's teachers was
Sister Mary John Lamb, O.P., who taught the majority of Colette's classes and who joined St. Francis de Sales the same year that Colette entered the school (1921).
First St. Francis de Sales High School Graduating Class, June 1925.
L to R: Matilda Ruskauff, Ann Pitek and Colette Greek. Missing: Agnes Goethals.
The Greek family June, 1925, Colette's High School Graduation.
L to R: Irene, Claude, Mayme, Bill, Rolly, Colette
Colette's High School Graduation. She made her own graduation dress and, probably, the hat as well. She was 18 years old.
The teachers at St. Francis de Sales high school were Dominican Sisters who were attached to the Sacred Heart Convent in Galveston, Texas. In High School Colette experienced
a sense of vocation which impelled her to become a Dominican Sister and teacher. On June 19, 1925, she entered the Dominican Order (O.P.) at
Sacred Heart Convent in Galveston, Texas where she received her white Novice's habit on December 8, 1925. She recieved the black veil after her first profession of vows on December 8, 1926. Mother Pauline Gannon, who was prioress
of Sacred Heart Convent, wanted each Sister/teacher to be state-certified with a university degree. She was no doubt an important and guiding figure in Colette and her sister Irene's young lives.
Mother Pauline Gannon, O.P.
Colette (L) sent this card to her mother from Galveston in late 1925. She was a Postulant at the time.
In a Christmas letter Sister Luke sent to her family in Riverside she described the morning of December 8, 1925: "I was so happy and excited
I was beside myself with joy." She went on to describe how they came in for Mass that day dressed as brides with veils and orange blossom wreaths and flower girls
and left the day's ceremonies as Dominican Novices.
Sister Luke as a Novice. December 8, 1925.
Sister Luke during her Novice year, 1926.
In a November 1926 letter to her Aunt Mabel and Uncle Roy, she described her busy schedule of teaching and also taking music and vocal lessons.
She went on to write: "The 8th of Dec. is the day I will receive the Habit and how I wish you could be here. Aunt Mabel I am very very happy and I
wouldn't exchange my place for anything in the wide wide world."
Sister Mary Luke, O.P. December 8, 1926.
Ernestine Schumann-Heink in 1916.
Sister Luke continued her musical education with the Faculty of Artists of the University Extension Conservatory in
Chicago, IL. As a testament to her talent as a singer, Sister Luke was accepted in a 1928 Summer Master Course given in Kansas City, MO,
by the famous opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink. This must have been quite an honor since Schumann-Heink had announced in 1926 her plans to
(only) "teach forty American girls". While attending the Master Course, Sister Luke stayed at St Teresa's Academy for girls in Kansas City.
The picture above is the only picture I have of Irene and Colette together after they had joined the Dominican Order. Tragically, it may have also been the last
picture ever taken of Sister Luke. She was teaching at Saint Agnes Academy in Houston when, on January 9, 1929, on her way back to the Convent from a day of teaching, she
was killed in an automobile accident.
Irene as a Postulate (L) and Collete (Sister Luke), late 1928.
From Sister Colette's narative:
The above newsletter is a touching testimonial to the impact young Sister Luke had as a caring teacher and cherished member of the Sacred Heart Community.
Sacred Heart Parish (Houston) Newsletter of January 13, 1929.
One of the nuns at the convent in Houston wrote the following poem on January 10, 1929, and sent it Sister Luke's mother, Mayme Greek.
Sister Mary Luke was laid to rest in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Houston, Texas.
May she Rest In Peace.
It was impractical to reproduce here all the source material concerning Sister Luke that Sister Colette and my mother passed on to me.
Having read through it all my overall impression is that Carletta was a creative, caring and loving older sister. She added immensely to the
richness of the Greek family life and all of us who are descended from that family have benefited greatly from her loving influence.
Her untimely death was a loss for us all. (REH. 10/21/2020).