Sr Teresa, a Fijian, was born on 8 April, 1938, and was baptized Selina Momoyalewa. In 1954 she entered the convent in Auckland and after three years of training was professed a religious sister on 14 January, 1958. I won’t give you all her appointments as a Sister, except to say that Sr Teresa arrived in the Cook Islands in 1994 to be the principal of St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, a position she held until 2006. Another responsibility she had was to look after St Joseph’s Cathedral overseeing the preparation of various services held in the cathedral. Apart from one year, in 2007, she has been present in the Cook Islands for 25 years.
Sr Teresa officially retired from active duties in 2015.
As well as the nearly 80 years of life of Selina Momoyalwewa, it is the 60 years as Sr Teresa of Mary Immaculate that is our focus: 60 years of Religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph of Cluny; 60 years of living the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty; 60 years of living in community with other members of the Cluny Sisters; 60 years of carrying out the mission of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny as expressed first in the Constitutions written by the foundress, Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey..
In his sermon for the occasion Bishop Paul Donoghue made this comment.
“Pope Francis on just about every occasion he speaks to the youth, speaks to them about their grandparents. “Have you consulted your grandparents?” he asks them. “Have you listened to their stories?” Sr Teresa, whether you like it or not, you are now a grandparent in our diocese of the Cook Islands and of the Sisters of Joseph of Cluny. Your previous roles as Principal and carer of the cathedral are over. You retired in 2015 and so now are free of these roles. Our diocese wants to see a Sister of Cluny joyfully living her religious life. Your call today is to be “nourished by communal prayer, prayerful reading of the Word, active participation in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Thus nourished, you will be at the heart of your community, welcoming your former students, bringing their families to share in your love of Jesus and extending this welcome to the new Sister joining your community.”
At the meal after the mass, Sr Teresa’s former Grade 6 pupils of 1994, sponsored the diamond jubilee cake and members of the Fijian community entertained everyone present with a Fijian “vakamalolo” (action song).
Well may Sr Teresa echo Mary’s song of thanksgiving: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.” Luke. 1:46.
Bishop Paul Donoghue.