Sister Teresa: Creating a Legacy of Love and Care
March 8th to 14th is National Catholic Sister’s Week. To celebrate, we are highlighting some of the sisters who devote their lives to serving others. Each of these sisters work tirelessly with vulnerable communities promoting and supporting our mission of delivering healthier lives worldwide. These women religious go where few are willing to and serve the most neglected. They create a legacy of compassion, love, and care that changes and often saves lives.
Here’s a little piece of trivia about me that most people don’t know: when I first came to Peru as a CMMB volunteer six years ago, I spent my first month living in a convent. My permanent housing had not yet been found, and it was the safest place to stay in the interim.
To say that the Sisters of Bon Secours treated me kindly during my time with them would be an unpardonable understatement. They shared with me their meals and their love. They knocked on my door to check on me if they hadn’t seem me in a while. They doted on me, worried about me, took me to mass with them, and called me if I wasn’t home by eight o’clock to make sure I was okay. When I got so sick that I had to be hospitalized in their clinic for a few days, they visited me every single night, catching me up on the day’s happenings and force-feeding me chicken broth.
Before I got to Peru, I worried that I would be lonely sometimes; but they made sure I never was. I will always be grateful for the kindness they showed me.
My dear friend, Sister Teresa, is a member of the Sisters of Bon Secours. We work together on the CMMB First Thousand Days Project. Sister Teresa fulfills an often overlooked but absolutely crucial role in community mobilization: psycho-social support.
In the New Jerusalem district where we work, family violence—including verbal, physical and sexual assaults—are tragically commonplace events. Unfortunately, there are nearly no safe houses or shelters for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Sister Teresa offers psychological and spiritual support to women affected by violence and mistreatment, and also facilitates couples’ counseling and healthy communication techniques.
What I love most about Sister Teresa is her infectious love for everyone else. She has this abundant kindness to her, this desire to really know people—and she accepts them, no matter what. One feels she can be herself, reveal her darkest secrets, around Sister Teresa, and know that she will be safe.
Sister Teresa makes it her mission to care for and validate other people’s feelings. She is a daily example to me of the transformational power of listening, and she is proof that the greatest gift we can offer one another is our undivided attention.
Sister Teresa also happens to be one of the funniest people I know. When she isn’t singing her new favorite song, Despacito (I’m not kidding), she’s telling jokes and keeping the team laughing until we are all in tears. Last weekend, I had the privilege of spending a whole a day in Sister Teresa’s kitchen, learning how to make cocadas, a local coconut dessert. Watching Sister Teresa wield a machete and pulverize coconuts on her patio is an image I won’t likely forget anytime soon.
Sister Teresa spends her days listening to the kinds of stories that would drain most people’s emotional reserves; and yet, she still prioritizes caring for her CMMB teammates and her fellow Sisters. If there is an example of acceptance, laughter, listening, and kindness in the world, Sister Teresa is it.