Sister Mary Theresa McGarrity, CSJ
The Psalm verse “Let us sing a joyful song to our God” captures the life of Sister Mary Theresa McGarrity, a Sister of Saint Joseph for nearly seventy-five years.
Mary Theresa was the daughter of Mary and Joseph McGarrity, whose simple faith and generous love formed Mary Theresa and her siblings in understanding that what is most important in life is not material things but a deep sense of God’s presence in their own lives and in the lives of others.
Mary Theresa developed her gifts as a teacher in elementary and high school and pursued a bachelor’s degree at Manhattan College and a Master’s Degree in English at St. John’s University. Her unique gift was recognizing the talents and potential in others whom she continuously encouraged and empowered. Mary Theresa was known to radiate joy, openness and welcome, encouraging others to celebrate their gifts and to rely on God’s providential care in their own lives.
Her joy and keen sense of the dignity of others came from her intimate relationship with a loving God. Her deep spirituality drew her to our House of Prayer here in Brentwood and eventually she spent two years with the contemplative order of the Redemtoristines in Esopus. When she returned she continued to teach and was drawn to the House of Prayer in Plainview.
Mary Theresa truly lived a life that was simple, prayerful, courageous and compassionate as she ministered in our Academy, Maria Regina and here in St. Joseph’s Convent. You could not leave her presence without feeling affirmed and uplifted. She loved to write poetry and her words are a mirror of her life where she loved God and neighbor without distinction. Our greatest tribute would be to take her words seriously in our own lives so we too can deepen our trust in God and bring God’s care and compassion into our world. As we begin our liturgy, let me end with a poem Mary Theresa wrote to one of our sisters on her silver jubilee day.
May joy and peace
Sing in your heart
To others these gifts
In love impart.
May God’s life in you
Be firm and strong
Encircling, filling, directing you
All life long.
May the love and compassion
You have and share
Lighten the burden
Of many others’ care
Today, I rejoice
With and for you
Knowing the gifts I pray for
Are already very alive in you.
Sister Mary Theresa McGarrity, CSJ died on May 18, 2015 in the 71st year of her religious life.