Sister Teresa Riley, 84, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died Nov. 24, 2020, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 65th year of religious life. She was a native of Mayfield, Ky.
Sister Teresa was a gentle and affirming woman with a keen sense of the needs of others, especially those who were sick or alone.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Brescia College, Owensboro, Ky., in 1967 and a master’s degree in elementary education from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Ky., in 1973.
She taught at St. Leonard School, Louisville (1957-67), Precious Blood School, Owensboro, Ky. (1967-69), Seven Holy Founders School, Affton, Mo., (1969-76), St. Joseph School, Mayfield (1976-78), St. Angela Education Center, Louisville (1980) and Owensboro Catholic High School (2000). She served at Brescia College/University as office manager for admissions (1978-80) and director of Student Support Services (1986-2000). She was administrative assistant in the education department of Bellarmine College, Louisville (1981-86). She served at Maple Mount in the business office (2001) and volunteer services (2010). She was pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish, LaCenter, Ky., (2001-10), and served in outreach ministry in Benton, Ky., from 2011-18, when she retired to the Motherhouse.
Survivors include the members of her religious community; two sisters, Margie Brittain, of Stanford, and Ruth Dickens, of Tucson, Ariz.; two brothers Joseph Riley and James Riley, both of Mayfield; nieces and nephews.
In compliance with health and public safety directives, the funeral and wake service will be private. The wake service is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, the funeral Mass is at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4 at Mount Saint Joseph.
Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is in charge of arrangements.
Donations in memory of Sister Teresa may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.
Remembrance of Sister Teresa Riley
December 3, 2020
Sister Amelia Stenger, OSU, Congregational Leader
We come together this evening to remember our Sister Teresa Riley. She answered God’s call to return to her creator on November 24, 2020.
Teresa Ann Riley was born on September 24, 1936 in Graves County near Mayfield, KY. She was the seventh child of Cecil Anthony Riley and Mary Lucille Sanderson Riley. Her older brothers and sisters were Cecil, Margie. Wilma, Joseph, Mary and James. Her younger siblings were John, Ruth and Roy. To Margie, Joseph, James and Ruth, who are her living siblings, we offer you our prayers and sympathy. We know that it is difficult for you since you are not able to be here, but please know that you are here with us in spirit.
Teresa Ann was baptized at St. Joseph’s Church in Mayfield, KY on October 25, 1936. In her writings she said that her father was baptized Catholic, but her mother was baptized in the Baptist Church. Her mother joined the Catholic church just two years before she was born. She said that her mother and father set an excellent example of faith for their children. She was confirmed on May 23, 1946 by Bishop Francis R. Cotton.
Because her family lived seven miles from the Catholic Church and school, she attended public school until she was in the sixth grade. She started first grade at Pryor School in Graves County. Two years later the Pryor School closed, and she and her brothers and sisters started to school at Farmington School. Each year her parents wrote Bishop Francis R. Cotton and asked permission for the children to attend the public school, since they lived so far away and didn’t have bus service. On Sunday mornings, the Ursuline Sisters taught religion to the children who attended public schools. She said that her parents were very faithful in having the ten children attend the religion classes after they attended Mass.
When she was ready for the sixth grade, Bishop Cotton asked her parents to send their children to St. Joseph School. Despite the hardships involved, her Mom and Dad did as the bishop requested. Her Dad was a livestock dealer, and he would take the children to school in his truck so that he could go on to the cattle sales in Mayfield. She remembered waiting several hours after school sometimes until her Dad could get back to school and take them home.
She completed her elementary school years at St. Joseph Elementary school and then attended St. Joseph High School where she graduated in 1953. She got a job at Woolworth’s “Ten Cent Store” in Mayfield after graduating. She said that this experience helped her grow up and taught her a lot about life in the real world, but she knew it was only temporary. After working for a year, she decided to listen to God’s call, and made the decision to enter the convent at Mount St. Joseph. She said her vocation was fostered by the good example of her parents and the Ursuline Sisters who taught her.
She entered the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph as a postulant on September 7, 1954. She entered with fourteen other young women. We offer our prayers and sympathy to Sisters Margaret Marie Greenwell, Francis Louise Johnson, Catherine Marie Lauterwasser, Marietta Wethington and Jane Falke who are her remaining classmates. One year later she received her habit and became Sister Mary Anthony.
Three years after she entered, after taking her first vows, she went to St. Leonard School in Louisville to teach the first grade. She remained at St. Leonard for ten years and continued working on her degree at Brescia during the summers. In the summer of 1967, she completed her degree requirements and received her bachelor’s degree in Education.
She said that her life as an Ursuline Sister was not always easy, but it was fulfilling. The rules were very strict when she entered the convent in 1954 but she knew that if she was going to live the life, she had to do what was expected of her. She said that God gave her the grace to persevere and that she made her final vows in 1960.
In August of 1967, she moved to Precious Blood School in Owensboro, where she continued teaching first grade. After two years, she was asked to move to Affton, MO, to teach first grade again. She taught there until 1976. All during those years she was going to school at Western Kentucky University during the summers to get her master’s degree in Education. She completed that work in 1973.
She continued teaching in elementary schools until 1978 when she was asked by Sister George Ann Cecil to come to Brescia and serve as office manager in the Admission Office. She said that those two years were very happy ones and she learned much that helped her continue her growth as a person.
She felt that she needed more education and decided to study at Spalding in Louisville to get some courses in Counseling and Psychology. She did take some courses but when offered a position there as Administrative Assistant in the Education Department at Bellarmine she eagerly accepted. After five years there, she returned to Brescia when Sister Ruth Gehres, who was the president of Brescia at the time, asked her to become the Director of Student Support Services at Brescia. She remained in that position for fourteen years. She said she loved living and working at Brescia.
From there she served as a pastoral associate in several parishes, a teacher at Catholic High in Owensboro, the business office at the Motherhouse and retired to the Mount in 2018. It was difficult for her to leave her ministry in Benton, Kentucky when she returned to the Mount. She wanted to continue to serve but knew that she was not able to serve as she had in the past. She adapted to life in the Villa but grieved over the fact that she could no longer serve. Our staff in the Villa took very good care of her. We thank you for your care and service to her and to all the Sisters in the Villa.
She was committed to the community and to the church. In a meditation that she wrote she said, “Through the years my love for God, for my Catholic Faith, for the community of the Ursuline Sisters, and for all God’s people has grown. The years after Vatican II were sometimes traumatic, but God guided our community to be faithful to Him and to the mission given to us by our founder, St. Angela Merici. Although I do not know what the future holds, I know that it is in God’s hands. I have sincerely tried to be faithful to God, and I know that my religious community has also. I am confident that God will be faithful to me and to the community.”
She lived out those ideals in all her ministries. Fr. Julian Ibemere, pastor of St. Mary parish in La Center at the time she was serving there, said this about Sister Teresa, “Sister Teresa is the embodiment of humility, hard work, and love. The La Center community bears witness to these. Her love knows no bounds. She believes in ecumenism, and for this she has made converts and friends for the church in La Center and the entire Church. She has special love for the sick and the less privileged.”
Sister Teresa, your life of service as an Ursuline Sister was remarkable. You lived your vows and you truly shared yourself with the People of God. Your love for God and the Community is a blessing to all of us. May you rest in Peace.