“Veni, Sponsa Christi”

 

Come, Spouse of Christ,

receive the crown the Lord has prepared

for you from all eternity.

In 1986, God invited Sister Thérèse to another brave leap of faith when she was appointed on-site superior of Roswell’s new foundation in Belleville, Illinois. He also entrusted to her the inspiration for the orb-and-cross design of the new Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy which was dedicated on December 8, 1989. The following June, Sister Thérèse was elected first
abbess of the young community which she served generously, courageously and creatively for eighteen years. Every corner of the monastery bears the mark of her artistry, from the choir furnishings to the kitchen cupboards. Each page of our spiritual annals is stamped with her whole-hearted Poor Clare living – from her fervent Eucharistic devotion to her unflagging Franciscan joy.

You have to be brave. When the Holy Spirit indicated in 2008 that it was time to turn a page in our community history, Mother Thérèse asked not to be re-elected abbess. She did serve as vicaress for the next thirteen years, and we reaped the harvest of her wisdom, her deep prayer, her love of the Divine Office, and her full-hearted obedience.

In Lent 2021, in the Year of St. Joseph (to whom she was so devoted), our Lord asked her who was so brave in living to also be brave in dying. A major heart episode on March 23 signaled His nearness as well as the need for hospice and round-the-clock care in our infirmary. Conformed to her Beloved, she crossed the threshold of hope on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Some years earlier, she had confided to a priest friend the secret of her brave and faithful love: When once you have entered the enclosure of His Heart, why would you want to leave?

 

While learning English and her new community’s customs took up much of her first year in Roswell, it was soon obvious to all that their little Canadian Sister spoke “Poor Clare” very well. Sister Thérèse (far right) and Roswell’s first postulant, Sister Mary Clare, pronounced their perpetual vows on August 27, 1955. Christ’s bride then generously served her community as cook and gardener, seamstress and carpenter, silk screener and councilor. In 1967, she became assistant novice mistress and then was appointed novice mistress after the Alexandria foundation was made in 1977.
When the challenges of restoring Poor Clare life in war-ravaged France proved insurmountable and the Brest monastery was officially suppressed, Sister Thérèse returned to Canada. After a memorable reunion with her family, the Lord invited her in October 1954 to journey on to Roswell, New Mexico, to the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded in 1948. The warmth of the welcome she received outshone the Southwest sun and spoke to her of Clarian simplicity, poverty and charity. Our Lord said, “Here!” and she said a brave “Yes!”

At eighteen the great summons came to leave home and homeland to join a group of young women desiring to revive Poor Clare life in a struggling monastery in Brest, France. You have to be brave to belong to Jesus – and Thérèse was! It was in Brest that she was invested with the holy habit on October 30, 1949, and received her religious name, Sister Marie Thérèse of the Holy Eucharist; there she also pronounced her first vows on the Feast of Our Lady’s Seven Joys, August 27, 1951.

When the challenges of restoring Poor Clare life in war-ravaged France proved insurmountable and the Brest monastery was officially suppressed, Sister Thérèse returned to Canada. After a memorable reunion with her family, the Lord invited her in October 1954 to journey on to Roswell, New Mexico, to the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded in 1948. The warmth of the welcome she received outshone the Southwest sun and spoke to her of Clarian simplicity, poverty and charity. Our Lord said, “Here!” and she said a brave “Yes!”

Marie Aldinah Thérèse Tremblay was born on February 13, 1930, in Alma, Québec, Canada. Her parents, Arthur and Rose Tremblay, usually had their babies (all twelve of them) baptized on the day of their birth. But a blizzard prevented their fourth-born’s godmother from making the trip across town for the christening. So, the baptism was deferred to February 14, a significant day since, like her great patroness, Thérèse Tremblay was also destined to be love in the heart of the Church.

Deep Catholic faith marked her family life, which also abounded with singing and skiing, hiking and berry-picking. At age four, on seeing her first religious Sister, Thérèse gave her seamstress Mama no peace until she dressed her like that. At eight, she read her first real book, The Story of a Soul, and addressed to her father, a former seminarian, her big question: What does it mean to be a spouse of Christ? Papa replied that, as in marriage the man and woman belong to each another, so a young woman called to be a spouse of Christ, belongs to Jesus. That settled Thérèse’ vocational choice: I want to belong to Jesus!

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Mother Therese in Montreal

“You have to be brave!”

 

Whether encouraging a novice to learn a new skill

or a cook to try a new recipe,

Mother Marie Thérèse had a lifetime witness

 to confirm the truth of her oft-repeated saying.

 

 

Mother Marie Thérèse of the Holy Eucharist

 

February 13, 1930 – April 29, 2021

 

During Paschaltide of 2021, our first abbess was summoned home by her Divine Bridegroom.

Please join us in thanking God for the gift she was

to our community, our Order, and to the entire Church.  

Thérèse at age four
October 30, 1949 – Investiture as a Poor Clare novice
Holy Week, 2021