In Memory

Sister Theresa Ann McElroy, IHM

July 31, 1931 – October 6, 2018

Sister Theresa Ann McElroy, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Louisa) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on July 31, 1931 in Providence, RI. She was the daughter of the late Raymond P. and Louise T. Miller McElroy. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1948 and made her temporary profession of vows on May 8, 1951 and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1954.

Sister Theresa served as a teacher at the following schools: St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1951 to 1952; Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School in Inwood, NY, from 1952 to 1953; St. Mary Elementary School in Manhasset, NY, from 1953 to 1961; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1961 to 1967; and Santisimo Nombre de Jesus Elementary School in Lima, Peru, from 1967 to 1975.

She also served as a pastoral minister at Santisimo Nombre de Jesus Parish in Lima, Peru, from 1975 to 1978; pastoral minister at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in New York, NY, from 1978 to 1982; youth ministry at Avila Center in Kelowna, BC, Canada, from 1982 to 1984; parish minister at St. Gertrude Parish in Far Rockaway, NY, from 1984 to 1985; director of religious education at St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton, PA, from 1985 to 1989; coordinator of tutors at Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II Lurin Lima, Peru, from 1989 to 1991; pastoral care at Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale, PA, from 1992 to 1997; community outreach at Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale, PA, from 1997 to 1999; and minister to the sick and elderly at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring, MD, from 2000 to 2012.

From 2012 until the time of her death, Sister Theresa was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in education from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by three brothers, Raymond, James and Joseph; and two sisters, Katherine L. Buckley and Esther Lutz.

She is survived by nieces and nephews and by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Wednesday, October 10, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Tuesday, October 9, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Wednesday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.



Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Fall 2018 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Theresa Ann McElroy, Funeral October 10, 2018

May you not forget the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have
received, and pass on the love that has
been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you
are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your
bones, and allow your soul the freedom
to sing, dance, praise and love.

Teresa of Ávila

All who knew Theresa can attest to the fact that she fully lived these words from the prayer of Teresa of Avila every day. Her life was a gift to and for others; she did not seek personal attention or gain, but put the well-being of others first, even at her own expense. In one of her letters from Peru, she wrote how, after a long, very busy day at school followed by an important parish meeting, the sisters finally got home, starved and looking forward to the leftover beans and rice from the night before. However, that afternoon, Theresa had given the meal away to a poor mother who had come begging for food for her children. Needless to say, she wrote in her letter, the other sisters, with tongue in cheek, continually reminded her for the rest of the evening how happy they were to be practicing HER vow of poverty.

When we came into Theresa’s presence, we were welcomed always by a wide smile, laughing eyes, and her customary, “How be’s you?” greeting. She blessed us with infinite kindness, compassion, love, and a few practical jokes thrown in for good measure. Throughout her sixty-eight years as an IHM, her single-minded goal was to serve God through service to others. As we heard in the stories yesterday, her ‘yes’ to God and others was the simple but profound act of belief and trust in that love and presence in all. For Theresa, this trust formed the core of her deep relationship with God which was the source of her determination, love, and joy throughout her life. This was a person so in love with God and God’s goodness that she was able to give herself freely and totally in goodness to all.

We rejoice in the gift of Theresa’s life with us. As a teacher, Theresa uniquely touched the minds and hearts of her students. She saw each as a special gift to her and to the world, and, as I mentioned yesterday, she taught her students to measure success not by the number of 100s they got on their tests, but by the way they shared their gifts and talents with others. Theresa lived her own life by that same yardstick, whether it was in a classroom in Lima, Peru or as youth minister in Kelowna, British Columbia or organizing community outreach in Carbondale, or ministering to the sick and elderly in Silver Spring, Maryland. She taught Gospel values and lessons not just through her words, but by her simple, yet profound example of respect and love for all, with a dose of humor always at the ready. That was one of Theresa’s most endearing qualities: she never took herself too seriously and that wonderful gift of acknowledging her own vulnerabilities allowed us to be ourselves more freely as well. She modeled for us the awesome grace of understanding that it is God, not ourselves, who makes all things possible, who is the center of all life, and she did this simply by who she was. Her witness of love and joy continued when she came to Our Lady of Peace as a prayer minister several years ago.

Theresa absolutely treasured her family. She is reunited now in heaven with her parents, Louise and Raymond, her sisters, Katherine and Esther, and her brothers, Raymond, James, and Joseph. We can only imagine the joyous celebration they shared. We pray today for all those whose lives were touched by Theresa’s kindness and dedication, especially her nieces and their families. We also pray with and for her many IHM friends, especially her band members, her many friends in community, and those with whom she shared life, especially the sisters in Household 4A, the staff who cared for her here at Our Lady of Peace and from Hospice of the Sacred Heart, and of course, her Bingo partners. We trust that the kindness and joy that were always a part of Theresa’s life will live on in each of them and all of us.

So we gather this day to celebrate Theresa’s life and the goodness she was in our world. We mark the end of her journey among us, and we will surely miss her presence, but if we truly take to heart the lessons she taught us, we can say that today is a good day. Teresa of Avila’s last words before she died were: “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well, then, may your will be done… It is time to meet one another.” Theresa’s earthly journey ended last Saturday– it was time for her to move on, to meet her God face to face, in the heavenly home reserved for her. And rest assured, somewhere in heaven, a Bingo game or two is underway and very probably Theresa has the winning card!

I now ask her niece, Therese, to place the scriptures on Theresa’s casket, for she heard the Word of God; indeed, she staked her life upon it, and received life to the full … the Word now beckons her home.

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