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SISTER M. THERESA

Mississauga

Vocation Story ...
I’m going to be a brown one!

My Mother told us all about the Little Flower when we were little. When she took me with her to visit the Precious Blood Sisters, who wore white habits with red Scapulars, an extern Sister, dressed in black, met us at the grill. A young Sister came in to the room behind the grill. All I remember is a smiling face surrounded by white, and having only seen Sisters dressed in black, I jumped onto Mom’s knees very scared. I was 4 years old. The extern Sister asked me if I wanted to be like this young Sister, and I said into my Mother’s ear, “You tell her I’m going to be a brown one!” Mom translated this to the Sister as, “She wants to be like the Little Flower.” The Sister laughed, and gave me a bag of humbug candies.

My Father’s Aunt was a Magdalen Sister in Detroit - they follow the Rule of Carmel. When she heard Mom was expecting me, she wrote, asking Mom to call me Theresa if I was a girl! Mom had already picked out Catherine Mary, but to oblige Aunt Miggie - Sr. Magdalen of Calvary - she added Theresa to my Baptismal name. When I entered the convent, I was told no one could have the name of Theresa, because there were so many, unless it was her Baptismal name, so I was able to be named after the Little Flower.

As I grew older, I thought of being a White Sister of Africa, but stopped thinking about the Convent at 15 years of age. When my brother went to the Seminary at age 17, my Grandmother asked me what I was going to be. I was tired of people asking me this, so I told her I was going to be, “an old maid in a rocking chair with 6 cats!” That stopped the questions!

After graduation at 16 years of age, I went to work at the Workmen’s Compensation Board for 2 years and 3 months. One day the mail wasn’t delivered until late afternoon, which affected all departments. Work slowed down, and then halted. Having nothing to do for a half hour, we sat and talked. Some started telling jokes, and then one girl told one about priests and nuns. I was horrified, coming from a family that had many priests, Brothers and Sisters. I spoke up at once, telling her how wrong it was, so she stopped, and the subject was closed. The mail arrived, and we worked for the next hour. On the way to the streetcar, I thought, “Poor God! No one cares about Him, and just use His Name for swearing and bad talk.” As I got on the streetcar, I suddenly thought, “I’ll give myself to Him to make up for those who don’t care about Him - I’ll enter the Convent!”

I was overwhelmed by this thought, but found myself unable to speak of it that evening. Next morning at breakfast, July 31st, 1951, I announced to my Father, “I know what I’m going to be.” He said, “What?” I answered, “I’m going to enter the Convent.” He replied, “Which one?” It was then I realized I hadn’t even thought of which one, so I opened my month to say, “I don’t know,” and the word “Carmelite” came out! He asked, “Where is it?” and I said, “I don’t know, but it must be in the phone book.” As I had to leave for work to catch the bus, I asked him to phone and make an appointment for me, which he did, and that evening I went to see the Sisters. Sr. M. Philiberta opened the door, and Sr. M. Ermelinda, the Novice Mistress, talked to me, and said to come October 3rd, 1951, which I did.

My family and myself thought I was entering a convent totally unknown to us, but during the years I discovered that my Grandmother and Great aunts knew the Sisters. My parents spent their honeymoon at Niagara Falls and stayed each night in our Home in St. Catharines. Many other “strings”, as I call them, led to this Congregation that “nobody ever heard of”! I even sold tags for the orphanage when I was 11 years old. When the Toronto Convent was torn down, I discovered the tag boxes in an attic cupboard! My Mom spent her last years in our St. Catharines’ Home and Carmel Heights.

When I went to ask our Pastor to get a letter of recommendation, It turned out that this Congregation was the only one he liked, although his Sister was a Notre Dame Sister!

As you see, I don’t know about discernment, as I never had to look around at different Convents - it was all picked out for me, and practically placed in my lap!

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