Sister Thomas Edna Stack. CSJ
We celebrate the faithful and beautiful life of Sister Thomas Edna Stack a Sister of St. Joseph for 72 fruitful years. Thomas was 97 years young.
A special heartfelt welcome to the sisters and staff at Stella Maris. Stella Maris Convent was Thomas’ treasured home for 50 years and she applauded the incredible TLC she was given ~ care that was in her words fit for a queen!
Thomas was baptized Anna Assumpta Teresa. She spoke humbly and proudly of her dear parents Thomas and Edna, and her brothers, Doctor Thomas, Father Robert, and Professor John.
As a Bronx native Thomas attended Villa Maria Academy and went on to earn a BS in Chemistry from the College of Mount St. Vincent.After college she worked as an accomplished chemist at Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation where her future career path was set, a woman ahead of her time. But in her words, God’s call to religious life went from a gentle whisper to an outright push that brought her to Brentwood.
After four years as an elementary school teacher in St. Rose of Lima, Thomas earned her Masters from the University of Pennsylvania and embarked on her renowned and extraordinary ministry as a High School Science and Math teacher at TMLA, Bishop Kearney, and St. Agnes Seminary High School. In 1973 she was transferred to Stella Maris where she became a pillar of welcome and hospitality as well as a crackerjack teacher and role model.
Alumnae from near and far have filled social media with praise and adulation for this valiant woman known for her quiet humor, gracious smile and “can-do” spirit. Her generosity and kindness along with her highly valued belief in each students’ potential ~ “You knew she meant business” was a common refrain. Thomas’ mantra that young women can excel in science and math bore fruit in the lives of many. She’s famous for telling her students to leave their textbooks at home ~ her outline and daily engagement had everything to help them pass the Regents ~ and they did!
Thomas’ loving empathy, evidenced in her devoted care of her loving mother overflowed in later years to her fidelity in caring for her dear brother, John. Her virtue and grace were witnessed daily in her life in community centered on the Eucharist and devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Thomas was a “get it done, nun” ~ a faithful anchor at Stella during the ravages of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
She relished life and never missed a community gathering for prayer or celebration. Her choice of lavender walls for her bedroom along with a forever “Yes” to all things chocolate and Black Raspberry ice cream characterized a woman in love with all the gifts and blessings God lavished on her, gifts she never took for granted.
We’re grateful that Sister Mary Doyle, Thomas’ companion over the years will share a special Stella perspective.
Anne Therese Stack was later known as Sister Thomas Edna. I would name her Grace. The word ‘Grace’, according to Richard Rohr is God, eternally giving away God; nothing deserved.
Whether Anne Therese Stack or Sister Thomas Edna knew she was Grace and consciously acted like God ni her generous way as a servant – we knew it! We knew her as the generous servant, as wel as a Sister of St Joseph.
How many of us experienced her looking at us with a wry smile and a twinkle! For her, whether ti was to explain again that Chemistry problem or ot take the doctor’s prescription. In her prence we were welcome and not a burden. Her humor always broke down whether we were unsure or uncomfortable in our requests.
So, why are we all here today ni St Camillus Church or here by way of zoom? There is a hymn by Sister Kathleen Sherman titled ‘Because We Love God’. The verses ask why do we do any of the Beatitudes and the chorus explains ‘Because we love God’. And the question, ‘ why are we here today?’ – because we love Sister Thomas Edna.
In her quiet, sincere love for God, she loved each of us. She was ‘Grace’ – God, giving away God’s Self, whether she was conscious of ti or not. But we knew it and loved her for it, and in ways we can’t explain, we all became better because of her. In Sister Thomas, there was never any negative gossip, no put downs or complaints; just herself, simply being and doing – with great kindness.
Our notebook on the counter at Stella Maris says it all – short phrases or longer paragraphs describing how Thomas impacted us, made us laugh, caused us to leave her presence feeling very good. Truly, another name for Sister Thomas is GRACE because God was acting in her as servant. She was clear, practical, direct, honest, very funny, but most especially kind.
Thank you Thomas, for being God’s great servant and allowing us to know God in you.
Sister Thomas Edna Stack, CSJ died on November 3, 2023 in the 72nd year of her religious life.