In Memory

Sister Theresa Bonanza, IHM

January 15, 1934 – December 28, 2019

Theresa Bonanza, IHM

Sister Theresa Bonanza, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Vincent de Paul) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Saturday, December 28, 2019 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on January 15, 1934, in Oyster Bay, NY, and given the name Christina Theresa. She was the daughter of the late Anthony and Christina Madden Bonanza. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1952, made temporary profession of her vows on August 3, 1955, and her final profession of vows on August 3, 1958.

Sister Theresa served as a teacher at the following schools: Holy Angels Elementary School, Hayes, PA, from 1955 to 1956; St. Mary Elementary School, Upper Marlboro, MD, from 1956 to 1958; Mother of Mercy Elementary School, Washington, NC, from 1958 to 1964; Sacred Heart of Mary Elementary School, Jermyn, PA, from 1964 to 1966; St. Rose Elementary School, Carbondale, PA, from 1966 to 1971; St. Mary Elementary School, Hollidaysburg, PA, from 1971 to 1972; St. Raymond Elementary School, East Rockaway, NY, from 1972 to 1975; St. John Parish House of Prayer, Susquehanna, PA, from 1975 to 1976; St. Patrick Elementary School, Scranton, PA, from 1979 to 1981; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School, Port Washington, NY, from 2000 to 2005; and St. Mary Elementary School, Goldsboro, NC, from 2005 to 2008. She served as a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine teacher at St. Peter’s Parish, Wellsboro, PA, from 1976 to 1978; and St. Patrick’s Parish, Milford, PA, from 1978 to 1979.

Sister also served as a parish minister at Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Verona, NJ, from 1981 to 1984; minister to sick and elderly at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring, MD, from 1984 to 2000; instructor at the Educational Enrichment Institute at the IHM Center, Scranton, PA, from 2008 to 2015; and also receptionist at the IHM Center from 2008 to 2015.

From 2015 until the time of her death, Sister Theresa served as a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence.

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

She is preceded in death by eight brothers, Brother Alfred, OSF, Michael, Anthony, James, John, Richard, George (infant), and George Francis, and three sisters, Mildred, Veronica, and Mary Duchnowski.

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

The funeral will be Friday, January 3, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton, PA. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Thursday, January 2, 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 Friday 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, Spring 2020 issue

Sister Theresa Bonanza, IHM

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President, at Sister’s funeral on January 3, 2020:

At the end of the road, they will ask me:
“Have you lived? Have you loved?”
And not saying a single word,
I will open my heart full of names.
Dom Pedro Casaldaliga

After experiencing the wonderful spirit of joy and laughter present here yesterday as we heard some great stories about Theresa during the wake service, I have no doubt that when Theresa entered her heavenly home last Saturday, she, like the author of this quote, needed no words to answer
these questions. Her heart overflowing with the names of family members and the countless sisters and friends with whom she shared life and love abundantly during her lifetime was the only answer needed. Our sharing yesterday was proof of that and a great tribute to this special woman who touched us with her goodness, kindness, humility, and joy. So we gather today with hearts filled with gratitude for Theresa’s life. In this sixty-fourth year of her profession as an IHM, we give thanks for her gracing us, our church, and innumerable young children with her faith-filled and generous service.

Theresa’s joyful, humble, and welcoming spirit came from her deep inner trust and faith in a God she loved unreservedly. That spirit was nurtured in her early years by a very supportive and very large family – twelve children and two parents. In fact, as I said yesterday, when she entered the IHM Congregation after high school, her transition to living in community was pretty seamless as far as the numbers were concerned! Theresa desired to become an elementary school teacher and she was unwavering in her love and commitment to that ministry, considering it a great honor. She taught for over forty-one years in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and New York and in our Educational Enrichment Institute at the IHM Center. So many young children benefitted from her joyful spirit, enthusiasm, and caring patience. She later served as a parish minister in parishes in New Jersey and
Maryland, ministering especially to the sick and elderly there. She was selected by the Archdiocese of Newark to participate in their first training
session at Fordham University for ministry among elder adults and received diocesan commendation for her creative and caring leadership in the training of others in this ministry. Not surprising, her humility, dedication, and enthusiasm were mentioned in the commendation as keys to the success of Theresa’s efforts to engage others in this important ministry. Those same qualities were evidenced during her years here at Our Lady of Peace as a prayer minister.

Throughout Theresa’s life, we witnessed her genuine kindness and concern for others, her generosity and compassion, her lighthearted humor and simple goodness. More than most of us, Theresa had a knack for appreciating life’s simple gifts, and that appreciation filled her with a joy that was infectious. She always had a smile ready and a kind of “can do” helping attitude to all. Her love for adventure and travel was legendary – as was noted yesterday, she could have her bags packed in no time if a trip was even mentioned. That spirit enabled her to continue the close connections she forged during her ministry days, and those connections were cherished by Theresa and continued to brighten her life right up to last Saturday.

Theresa truly cherished the members of her family and loved when they wrote or called or came for a visit. We are grateful today for her parents, Christina and Anthony, her first teachers who passed on to her and her eleven siblings a deep faith in God. They no doubt led the great welcome for her in heaven last Saturday, joined by her sisters, Mildred, Veronica, and Mary, and her brothers, Brother Alfred (Bobby), OSF, Michael, Anthony, James, John, Richard, George, and George Francis. What a wonderful reception that surely was for Theresa!

We pray today for all who have been touched by her life, especially her nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and cousins, and their families, and Sister Leonette, who will miss her dearly. Our prayers are also with her many IHM friends, the sisters and staff here at Our Lady of Peace, especially those with whom she lived in Household 3A, her Band members, the staff of Asera Care Hospice, and all who knew and loved her, especially her friends in Idaho and her dear friend in North Carolina, Dr. Gupta and her family.

Theresa trusted her God throughout her life. It was her love for God and God’s people that first drew her to the IHM congregation and it was that same love that bolstered her joyful spirit. Ever the eager traveler, she was certainly ready last Saturday for her final journey when that same Love called her home for all eternity – and, indeed, she needed no words to gain entrance to that home.

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

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