Sister Michael Therese Elliott
“My delight increases each time I sense your presence within me!” (Psalm 16:3)
“In Psalm 16, one of Sister Michael Therese’s favorites, we find the line, ‘My delight increases each time I sense your presence.’ The truth of this was seen in Sister Michael Therese’s life at least twice on Friday afternoon, May 19. The first time was when in response to her family telling her that arrangements were in progress to bring her to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She smiled and said “home.” This was the first word that she had spoken since their arrival at the hospital the day before. The second manifestation was the fact that once Sister Michael Therese arrived at the Woods, she was able to rest so much more peacefully than when she was in the hospital. I see this as a true sign of sensing God’s presence. This peace remained with her until she quietly slipped from our presence into the arms of God on Sunday afternoon,” said Sister Martha Wessel in a commentary for Sister Michael Therese Elliott that was written by Sister Mary Ann Phelan. Sister Michael Therese died May 21.
The oldest of four children of Thomas and Helen (O’Brien) Elliott, Eileen Ruth Elliott was born Christmas Day, 1927, in Medford, Mass. She attended grade school and high school at St. Patrick, Stoneham, Mass. She entered the Congregation Feb. 11, 1946, at Maryhurst in Rockville, Md., professing first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1948, and 1953, respectively. Sister Michael Therese earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
Sister Michael Therese began teaching elementary school in 1948 at St. Augustine, Fort Wayne, Ind. In Indiana, she also ministered as either a teacher or principal at St. Ann, Terre Haute, and St. Simon, Indianapolis. She spent four years at St. Joseph, Galesburg, Ill. The majority of her nearly five decades of teaching were spent on the East Coast. In Massachusetts, she ministered at Sacred Heart, Malden; St. Polycarp, Somerville; St. Rose, Chelsea; and Holy Family School, Rockland. She also taught at St. Mary, Rochester, N.H., and Holy Redeemer, College Park, Md. Sister Michael Therese returned to the Woods in 2003 and volunteered in a variety of ways.
“The last two years of Sister Michael Therese’s life have seen her face many health problems. She has always had the determination and ability to overcome the various illnesses until last week. Last week when it became clear to Sister Michael Therese that this time she would not be able to conquer her illness, she said that she was ready for God to take her. The delight in sensing God’s presence was in her heart again,” continued Sister Martha.
“In 1999, Sister Michael Therese had the opportunity to go to France with Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, and she kept a journal of the time. I would like to share with you a little of what she said after visiting Ruillé-sur-Loir, Etables-sur-Mer and so many of the places that were part of the early days of the Congregation. She wrote: ‘It was an opportunity I never dreamt that I would have, and one I will always cherish for many reasons. It not only made me appreciate Mother Theodore Guerin more, but it gave me an immense feeling of gratitude for the community she loved so much. It made me realize that it, too, was a young community. I think we sometimes think the cross was only in Indiana, but in some ways they had greater sufferings. There are many memories that will always be in my heart, especially of the many sisters who took us into their homes and hearts and made us truly feel that we are sisters,’” read Sister Martha.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Michael Therese was celebrated May 24 with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by both her sisters, Constance Kelly of Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Doris Davis of Peabody, Mass.; and her brother, Thomas of Chesterfield, Va.
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