Teacher Spotlight: Claire Therese and Her Journey on Earning Her PhD.

At Newport Central Catholic our mission as students and teachers is to keep our faith infused in everything we do, from the classroom, to sports, to our everyday activities. Religious education is a component of a balanced education at a Catholic school and as students we explore a deeper meaning of our experiences and giving purpose to our lives.  Many of our teachers here at NCC exemplify these teachings through their lessons. Claire Therese, who achieved the huge accomplishment of earning her PhD last year, plays an important role in these teachings specifically in the Theology Department.


Claire Heyne grew up in Texas and started her academic career at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic School and Highlands Grade School. Claire Heyne was an excellent student, mainly A’s, some B’s, and rarely ever got a C. She carried this work ethic into high school at The Hockaday School and through these years she felt as if she was called to something; as we all are, but this was something special. At 20 years old, she knew she was called to be a consecrated virgin. She was hesitant to make this decision saying, “At first I was scared. As soon as I surrendered to God’s will (trusting He wants my happiness even more than I do), I was very at peace and fulfilled.”

Some people are still unfamiliar with this “ancient but newly flowering” vocation she describes, because it is “neither clerical nor lay” (CIC 588). Her given insignia is a veil and a ring, which our Bishop has granted her the permission to wear. She then took on the new title, Claire Therese. Claire is now serving our Lord as a full time high school Theology teacher at NCC. She plays important roles such as a spiritual director, Diocesan course Theology teacher for adults, lector and extraordinary Eucharistic minister, Virtus facilitator, retreat speaker, and member of the Youth Advisory Board. She likes to keep herself busy with activities such as cooking, painting, sewing, hiking, ballet, and skyping her nieces and nephew. With being such a busy person, she made a huge accomplishment by earning her PhD!

It was a lengthy process to accomplish this. It took fourteen years of post-secondary education beginning with a BA, MDiv, STL, and then Sacred Theology Doctorate. “I’ve been blessed to learn a lot about God & our Catholic Faith. I’m honored to share this priceless knowledge with my students! I am especially honored to help them grow in their prayer lives and encourage them to ‘feed their souls’ via the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist!” Claire Therese says reflecting on her accomplishment. She prepares her students for eternal life in heaven and assists us in strengthening our faith. “I’ve noticed there is a real ‘catechesis anemia’ in our world. Most Catholics today do not really practice the Faith--I hope to be a little instrument to change that. We can’t fall in love with God Himself if we don’t know Him. I hope my small ministry of teaching a small group of students is a part of the remedy.” Claire Therese makes a huge contribution to our curriculum here at NCC by developing our knowledge of understanding of religion, religious beliefs, practices, language, and church traditions.

Keeping our faith infused in everything we do is crucial to our everyday lives. Everyone at NCC thanks Claire Therese and all of the theology department for making our mission possible and for playing such a big role in preparing us for eternal life and understanding our faith more each day.  

Carrigan Matteoli 19’

(CIC 588) :“New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law.” Google Books,