I was born on July 9, 1931 in the small town of Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, to Ann Shovlin and Raymond Therasse, the youngest of four children. I have two brothers, Donald and Raymond and one sister, Jeanmarie. After the 1936 flood, we were forced to move to Aliquippa, PA where my Dad worked at J&L Steel Mill.
My sister and I attended St. Joseph School in West Aliquippa, staffed by the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. When I was in the first grade, my mother died, and my sister and I were sent to live with Aunt Jenny, while my brothers remained with Dad. Seven years later, my father remarried; and we all moved back home.
I attended St. Veronica’s High School in Ambridge under the guidance of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, PA. During my junior year, my parents and I were invited to the Motherhouse of the Vincentian Sisters in Pittsburgh for the religious Profession of Sister Georgine Bires whose family lived near us in Aliquippa. During this visit, I and two other teenage girls were asked if we would be interested in going to Marbury, Alabama, during the summer to help the Sisters serving the people in that rural community. With permission from our parents, the three of us boarded the train in Pittsburgh and spent six weeks working with the Sisters in Marbury and Montgomery. During that time, I remember how very impressed I was with the kindness of the Sisters.
When I returned home, I told my parents of my desire to become a “nun.”
At first they questioned me, but after much discussion, they became convinced that this was what I really wanted. I withdrew from St. Veronica High School and entered the Vincentian Sisters of Charity on September 15, 1948, where I completed my senior year at Vincentian Academy.
Two of my novitiate classmates, Sister Marita Pozek and Sister Mary Jean Kubilus, are so much a part of my early memories of community. Our periods of recreation were often filled with laughter as we delighted in imitating others and relating stories of our early days of “adjusting.” In August of 1951, I, “Sister Aloysius,” and my companions professed our temporary vows.
After serving as an aide at Vincentian Home for two years, I received my first teaching assignment to St. Dominic School in Donora, PA. I loved each of my students and continued to enjoy teaching for many years in various towns throughout the Pittsburgh area. During the summer months, I attended Duquesne University where I earned my Bachelor of Education degree. My most challenging assignment was to St. Denis in Versailles, PA where I taught and then served as principal and house coordinator for twelve years.
In the summer of 1970, I was “asked” to accompany Sr. Mary Kenneth Hrbal to Cardinal Stritch College in Wisconsin, where we would study Special Education. We were both assigned to work with Rosemary Kennedy, who was a patient at the facility. Her family had built her a residence on the property and we became her “summer Sisters.” This proved to be an area of study that was well-suited to Sr. Mary Kenneth, while I remained in elementary education.
In 1975, our pastor at St. Denis, Fr. Kelly, was assigned to St. Thomas A’ Becket Parish in Jefferson Hills, PA. Shortly thereafter, he requested the assistance of two Vincentian Sisters to work with the children in the religious education program. Sister Aquiline Sventy and I were appointed. Since faith formation classes were held only on weekends, we decided to open a preschool for the younger children of the parish. This was when my training in special education became helpful, preparing activities appropriate for three and four year-olds, in addition to training young teachers to assist with the children.
In November of 2008, our Vincentian Sisters of Charity became a part of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Ky. Throughout all the changes that have occurred in my life, I have learned that I need only to trust in God and have faith in God’s love for me.
Today, there are over 500 students in the Faith Formation Program and 70 children in the preschool. I have lived at St. Thomas for almost forty years with Sister Mary Judith Seman who has served for many years as Parish Social Minister. We continue to participate in many of the daily activities of this vibrant parish on the hill.
I thank God for calling me to religious life and for giving me the courage and strength to persevere for over sixty-five years in community. I am filled with so much joy and peace as I reflect on all the good that God has done. Blessed be God forever!
Interviewed by Sister Barbara Maynard.
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