The "Inner, Persistent Call" of Sr. Teresa Ann Harrington, OSB: 1927-2012

By Prioress Sister Phyllis McMurray, OSB

Sister Teresa Ann’s life was one of teaching, guiding, mentoring and modeling. She drew her inspiration for these gifts to others from the Liturgy of the Hours, Scripture, and in particular, the psalms.  She relied on their support throughout her life.

In the letter of Paul to the Romans, Paul says that “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.  For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
Sister Teresa Ann lived for the Lord. Her life attests to this.  At one time she wrote that she was drawn to Benedictine life by an inner, persistent call of the Lord, inviting, drawing, even impelling her to follow him. And that she did.

Theresa Jane Harrington was born on June 30, 1927 in Urbana, Ill., the daughter of Earl and Genevieve Eddy Harrington.  The only girl, she had a great love for her brothers Kenny, Don and Tom. She attended Holy Cross School in Champaign, freshman and sophomore years at Champaign High School yet graduating from St. Mary’s Academy in Nauvoo where she spent her junior and senior years.  Jane entered the Benedictine community on Sept. 8, 1946, receiving the name Sister Teresa Ann the following year at her reception as a novice. She made her first profession as a Benedictine Sister on July 12, 1948 and her perpetual profession in 1951.

The Rule of St. Benedict was a guiding principle for Sister Teresa Ann, especially in her ministries as a Director of Novices and of Sisters in temporary profession, and in her leadership as Prioress.  After her term as Prioress, she served as a Pastoral Associate at St. Pius X Parish, Rock Island, where she planned liturgies, directed the Adult Choir and conducted spiritual renewal classes.  Her return to the Monastery was in no way a retirement.  She served as Liturgy and Music Director and mentored Oblates and women and men in Spiritual Direction.

When asked to make a comment about her life at the time of her 50th Jubilee, Sister Teresa Ann said, “The Holy Spirit has been a constant in my life—strengthening me when I felt weak, consoling me when times were difficult, guiding and enlightening me in times of decision.”

Sister left an impact on those she encountered.  A woman she met recently wrote of her:  “We all have people in our lives who we’ve known for a short time, but who have nonetheless touched something deep within us.  Those people who – when we meet them – we instinctively feel drawn to, and who turn out to really “get” who we are, and have valuable things to teach us.”

In a recent interview for our Monastery’s newsletter, Sister Teresa Ann was asked what wisdom she could share with others.  She responded:

“This may sound glib, but I believe the most important thing in life is to be true to your vocation, whatever it is.  The values of decency, honesty, caring for others, a willingness to give of oneself to others:  these are important.  They give you peace.  There will come a time in everyone’s life when the reality of their lives is right at their doorstep.  Live life so that you are ready for that.”

What wisdom she offered. We will miss her deeply.

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