Claire was born in New York, NY one of four children, two girls and two boys born to devout parents, Charles and Sybil Napoleon.
After Claire completed high school, she obtained employment at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Along with 3 or 4 women coworkers, she volunteered at McMahon Children’s Services located on East 112th Street. Each week they came to play with the infants and children before putting them to bed.
One evening, one of the staff, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, asked Claire if she had ever thought of entering religious life. Claire soon pursued the question and entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in North Providence on September 15, 1960 in N. Providence, and pronounced her final vows on March 19, 1969.
Claire’s earlier ministries included that of a nurse aide and an X-ray technician at Kennedy Memorial Hospital, in Brighton, MA, and a child care worker in McMahon Shelter in Harlem, NY. After completing her MSW studies at Columbia University School of Social Work, she ministered in New York City as an adoption social worker in a Black Child Caring Agency; as a foster care social worker with a high ratio of Spanish- speaking families and as a child care worker in a Children’s Shelter.
In 1980, she did an Emmaus Renewal Program in Grottaferrata, Italy at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary residence. Upon her return to the United States, in 1981, Sister Claire was sent in mission to Emmaus Community, in North Providence to minister as a Coordinator in the Diocesan Catholic Social Services. In addition, she ministered to Southeast Asian Unaccompanied Minors, all of whom were from Cambodia. She held the position as coordinator and supervisor of the program since its inception in December of 1981 at Catholic Social Services.
Claire’s international experience helped in this ministry with the youth, which was a highlight of her life. Her time in Rome and her experiences in Europe meant much to her. She wrote of this experience, “This experience of missioning to Southeast Asian youth has reminded me of my own powerlessness, has shown me my limitations and continuously brings me before the Lord. Here, I implore the help, call out the names of those for whom I am concerned, The missioning to others of another culture brings a certain humility for they too must endure as I stumble to help them function in a new world.” She considered this experience as her living fully her missionary vocation as a Franciscan Missionary of Mary.
From 1986 to 2001 Sister served as the Director of Social Services and as a social worker, in McMahon and in Divine Providence Shelter in Manhattan, NY. She also served as a provincial councilor.
While Sr. Claire was never missioned abroad, she traveled extensively in the United States in connection with her ministries and even traveled to the refugee camps in Thailand.
In 2005 she was sent in mission to Holy Family Community as the co-director of financial services.
Declining health necessitated her admission in 2010, to St. Antoine’s Residence where she died peacefully. August 18, 2015.