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Sisters of the Past

Sister Teresa Morel - formerly Sister Jerome

Profiled in December 2007

17 April 1920 17 December 2007

 Teresa Magdeline Morel was born in Greymouth on the 17th of April, 1920, to Alphonse and Anne Morel, nee Malone, the 12th of 13 children.  She died on the 17th of December, 2007 four months short of her 88th birthday.

One of Teresa’s enduring sorrows was the untimely loss of her mother at a very young age. She often spoke of very warm memories of her early childhood years spent on the family dairy farm at Teremakau. She described these days as idyllic, despite the number cows that had to be milked each day. It was leaving home for boarding school in Christchurch along with her sister, Clare, 10 and 11 respectively, and the experiences of those years that Teresa would say laid the foundation for both her fragility and her strength as a person.

Teresa entered the Sisters of St Joseph in 1938 and was professed in 1941, taking the name of Jerome.  In later years she reverted to her baptismal name.

From then on there were many years spent in the classroom as an excellent and highly valued teacher and catechist: in Hastings, Taihape, Whanganui, Hawera, Ohakune, Patea, Otaki, Waipawa, Levin, Auckland and Taupo; and some of these more than once. And later in life her semi-retired ministries - St Vincent de Paul, driving for the Cancer Society, visiting parishioners and offering a listening ear along with a ready cup-of-tea in the kitchen at Tawa. Teresa never did completely retire. Her ministry continued even in the Rest Home.  She was alert constantly to those who needed help especially spiritual help.

Teresa had a great love of a good conversation; an often off-beat sense of humour; forthright opinions; a thirst for learning and enjoyment of a good book.  In latter months she enjoyed tapes, because of her diminished sight -  biographies, current events and the inspiring stories of those who had overcome difficult circumstances against great odds. These nourished her mind and her spirit.

Always she showed a love of all creation it gave her a sense of wellbeing and contentment, her closeness to God in the outdoors. Many remember her green thumbs and the glorious Lyndhurst Road roses, the flourishing vegetable garden that she shared around the community, her well-trimmed lawns and countless ‘hubbies,’ as she liked to call her multi-skilled helpers. She bestowed so much care on her beloved cats across the years; and when she could no longer have pets of her own, the birds close by and other people’s pets became her joy.

Crafts and leisure-time activities were also important.  There was tapestry and cross-stitch, the wonderful machine-knitted garments she turned out for so many Sisters and friends, her brisk walks along the beach and through local shopping malls, and then around the neighbourhood with her walker.  She delighted in a drive, an ice-cream and a catch-up on Congregational news.  Her love of colour was well known - her passion for mauves and violets and pinks; and her enjoyment of a convivial sherry or port.

Teresa appreciated her many friends - her wonderful friends from Tawa, her friends from the Institute for the Blind, her friends from the Melbourne sabbatical days, and her Josephite Sisters who lovingly and faithfully responded to her growing needs in her last five or six years. Teresa was grateful for the smallest thing any person would do for her.

She had a deep love for her family, especially for her sister, protector and best friend, Clare. Teresa was touched by every family success, every sadness and every joy.

There was also Teresa’s resilience in the face of suffering the emotional suffering of intermittent bouts of depression and relational ups and downs; and the physical suffering associated with an ageing body. Spiritually, Teresa loved ‘being old,’ but her increasing disability wearied her. The gradual loss of independence was very hard for Teresa and the thought of further disability was something she did not want to contemplate. She had a strong sense that in her ageing, the fulfilment of her life cycle was nearly here, that in the words of the Second Letter to Timothy: “the time has come for me to be gone…” She was well ready to meet her God.  

A woman of deep faith, it was essentially living out of the paschal mystery that gave meaning to Teresa’s life. Celebrating the Eucharist, praying the Rosary, the reading of scripture and spiritually meaningful books, nourished her in the best of times and sustained her in the most difficult.

In the final words of her eulogy for Teresa, Catherine Shelton said:
 â€œIt is time now to speak to Teresa those words originally written to Timothy: Teresa, you have fought the good fight to the end; you have run the race to the finish; you have kept the faith.”

Mass of Requiem was celebrated for Teresa in Sacred Heart Chapel, Whanganui, on  21st December 2007, followed by interment at Aramoho Cemetery. 

Gallery / Whakaahua

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