Vale Sr Mary Teresa
Remembered as one who combined great down to earth practicality with wisdom and maternal care, Sr Mary Teresa of Jesus of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) was this month called home to be with the Lord on 4 March.
Known simply as Sr Teresa at the Launceston Carmel, her funeral Mass was held at the Carmelite Monastery in Launceston on 8 March, celebrated by Archbishop Julian.
Fr Mark Freeman delivered the homily at the funeral, describing Sr Teresa as “a great woman of faith”.
“Sr Teresa has enabled you her Sisters to deepen the reality of what it is to be a community of Carmel.
“She has enabled you to show the depths of compassion and love that bring us an experience of the fullness of life even now.
“The way she has lived – gracious, merciful, compassionate and profoundly loving – challenges us all to give ourselves over to Christ and to join in his self-sacrifice,” he said.
Born Shirley Margaret Morrison to John and Mary Morrison on 18 April 1932 in Willunga, South Australia, she was the only girl of four children.
A trained nurse and midwife, she had been raised as an Anglican but was later drawn to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church.
Feeling called to use her nursing gifts in service of others in a special way, she joined the Good Shepherd Sisters, received the religious name Sr Mary Loreto and made her religious vows on 19 March 1962.
Appointed Infirmarian, her role involved caring for the sick Sisters and the disabled children and young adults entrusted to the Sisters’ care.
However, she later began to sense a call from the Lord to a deeper form of prayer life and consecrated life centred around prayer.
Having nursed one of the Tasmanian Carmelites – who was recovering from major back surgery in Melbourne in the 1960s, provided her with an initial contact with the Carmel who were living at Longford.
After much prayerful discernment, Sr Mary Loreto transferred from the Good Shepherd Sisters and entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites’ Launceston Carmel on 21 May 1978.
Receiving the Carmelite habit and given the official name Sr Mary Teresa of Jesus, she made her solemn profession of vows as a Carmelite nun on 7 June 1982.
Last year marked 60 years of religious consecration in total for Sr Teresa, which included vows as a Good Shepherd and a Carmelite.
Prioress of the Launceston Carmel, Mother Teresa Benedicta OCD, said Sr Teresa was known in their community for her great compassion and skill as a nurse who held the office of Infirmarian for many years.
“She was also novice mistress for several years, guiding the young Sisters who joined our community in that time, and sub-prioress on several occasions.
“Sr Teresa was a great listener not only to Sisters in Community but to those she met outside.
“She had a number of periods of hospitalisation in recent years and the staff would relish the chance to speak with her and ask prayers for their families [and other intentions],” she said.
Mother Teresa Benedicta added that Sr Mary Teresa had a great love for the Church and the Carmelite charism.
“She will be remembered for her generosity, humility, gentleness, self-forgetfulness, bearing her sufferings with great patience and her trademark radiant smile and sense of humour,” she said.
“Sr Teresa’s gentle presence was so central to our Carmelite community, and this more than ever as she became increasingly dependent and frail in health.
“What a beautiful lesson that in itself has been for us all: it is not what we do that is important, but who we are,” she concluded.