In Memory

Sister Theresa Thayer, IHM

December 1, 1930 – May 23, 2017

Theresa Thayer, IHM

Sister Theresa Thayer, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Julian), of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on December 1, 1930, in Binghamton, NY, and given the name Katherine Theresa. She was the daughter of the late William and Catherine Walsh Thayer. She entered the IHM Congregation on February 1, 1949, and made her temporary profession of vows on August 2, 1951, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1954.

Sister Theresa served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Rose Elementary School in Carbondale, PA, from 1951 to 1952; St. Mary of the Mount Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1952 to 1959; Holy Trinity Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, NY, 1959 to 1961; William Gaston Regional High School in New Bern, NC, from 1961 to 1968; St. Rose High School in Carbondale, PA, from 1968 to 1969; Bishop Klonowski High School in Scranton, PA, from 1969 to 1972; St. John the Baptist Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1972 to 1976; Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, PA, from 1976 to 1978; St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1978 to 1981; Bishop O’Reilly High School in Kingston, PA, from 1981 to 1983; and Wyoming Area Catholic Elementary School in Exeter, PA, from 1995 to 1997. She served as a teacher’s aide at St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, in 1972.

Sister also served as director of religious education at St. Peter’s Parish in Wellsboro, PA, from 1983 to 1984; Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Scranton, PA, from 1984 to 1995; and at St. John the Baptist Parish in Syracuse, NY, from 2000 to 2009. She was area coordinator at Volunteers of America in Scranton, PA, from 1998 to 1999. Sister also volunteered at Heartworks Gift Boutique at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA, from 2009 to 2014.

From 2014 until the time of her death, Sister Theresa served as a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence.

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

She is preceded in death by four brothers, James, John, Leo, and Richard; and a sister, Helen Fritsch.

She is survived by a sister, Genevieve Kvasnak of Endwell, NY; and nieces and nephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Wednesday, May 31, 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, May 30, 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, Winter 2017 issue

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister Theresa Thayer, Funeral 5/31/17

Good morning. As we gather in prayer to celebrate the life of Sister Theresa, I want to welcome her sister, Genevieve, her nieces and nephews, the members of her Band, the Sisters with whom she lived here at OLP, and all who are able to be with us today and those joining us by Ustream.

A special thank you to Father John Lapera and Monsignor Jim McGarry, who were with Theresa at Nativity parish, and Father Clement, from Genevieve’s parish near Binghamton.

We very much appreciate each of you being with us this morning.I would also like to express thanks to Sisters Jean, Eleanor Mary, and Mary Kay, the administrators here at OLP, and the entire OLP staff for their constant care and support of Theresa.

On the door of Theresa’s room here at OLP hung a small plaque with the following words:

Theresa – the name means “Diligent Harvester”

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields,
for they are white for harvest. (John 4: 35)

This scripture quote from John’s gospel follows the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. After he took time to talk with the woman and answer her questions, she and many of her townspeople became followers of Jesus. His disciples, however, wondered why Jesus seemed to be wasting his time talking to the woman when he might better have been getting some food and rest for himself. Jesus then reminded them that their work of harvesting souls was more important than satisfying their own needs.

In listening to the stories about Theresa that were shared yesterday at the wake service, I thought about how she did indeed live her life as a “diligent harvester” for God. Throughout her sixty-six years of religious life, she served God’s people in several different roles. She began as a teacher in schools in Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and Delaware. But when she moved into parish work as a director of religious education and pastoral associate, she truly found her niche. For twenty-one years she ministered in various parishes, coordinating the religious education and R.C.I.A. classes for elementary and high school students and adults, visiting the sick and elderly, teaching parenting classes, and directing faith sharing groups. Theresa absolutely loved her work with the students and the adults. She was tireless in her planning and organization, and took particular pleasure in preparing the young students and her RCIA groups for the sacraments and in training teachers for her religious ed. classes. She once wrote that she most enjoyed sharing her faith with others because it taught her to be a better listener and communicator, and deepened her own spirituality and sense of compassion towards others. Those who shared life with Theresa can attest that she learned and shared those gifts a hundred-fold with those she met. Her own openness and vulnerability led others to know the healing and compassion that comes from a deep trust in a loving God. A woman of many talents, Theresa also ministered as a coordinator at Volunteers of America, and as a volunteer at Heartworks before becoming a prayer minister here at Our Lady of Peace.

Today, then, we celebrate and give thanks for the life of Theresa, our “diligent harvester,” for her unwavering love of God and her great gratitude for all that God and life gave her, the rejoicings as well as the sorrows. Her life was an example of the incredible power of deep faith, service on behalf of others, and trust in God. Theresa’s vulnerability became her strength and her gift to us because she profoundly understood that gentle compassion, kindness, and understanding of others is a source of God’s healing and light in our world. The wonderful stories yesterday about her love of family, her generosity, dedication, and calming influence, her “forever” smile, and her delight in serving her God will continue to challenge us to look beyond our own needs and wants and also remind us of what is most important in this life.

So let us bring our thoughts of Theresa’s goodness to our prayer today as we also remember very specially her parents, Catherine and William, her sister, Helen, and her brothers James, John, Leo and Richard, who now welcome her home to the eternal, ever-loving arms of her God.

We pray in a special way for those who will miss her dearly, especially her sister, Genevieve, her many nieces and nephews, her Band members, her IHM sisters, the staff and administrators here at OLP, and all those who shared life and friendship with her. We ask the God of all consolation to comfort us at this time of loss.

Theresa’s presence among us encouraged us, comforted us, and blessed us with God’s mercy and love. Her trust in God deepened our own faith. Her compassion for others softened our hearts and her struggles with ill health reminded us that despite, and maybe even because of, our own woundedness, we can make a significant contribution to our world that brings goodness and kindness to others.

The following Irish quote was on the wall of Theresa’s room: May the hand of a friend always be near you and may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you. Theresa, as you gave your hand in friendship to so many during your life among us, may your heart now overflow with the abundance of gladness in God’s loving embrace for all eternity.

The following Irish quote was on the wall of Theresa’s room: May the hand of a friend always be near you and may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

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

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