During the past decade, Sr. Theresa Sarich, OSU, was considered a mother to Santa Monica Mission, in El Cenizo, Texas, a small, impoverished Hispanic community just outside of Laredo. The parish depended on her not only for religious instruction but also to fulfill the many social service and educational needs of both children and adults. In 2010 she was named a finalist for the Catholic Extension Society’s Lumen Christa Award, given to an individual working to help strengthen communities located in the poorest, most isolated regions of the United States.
The daughter of devoutly Catholic Croatian immigrants, Sr. Theresa grew up in Columbus, Ohio, listening to stories of the saints at her mother’s knee and knew then she wanted to be a nun. After studying Spanish in high school, she felt drawn to serve Hispanics; the opportunity to do so came some 50 years later at Santa Monica Mission.
During the many years she dedicated to helping build the parish and community, Sr. Theresa also built a core of devoted volunteers in the parish. When she retired from her ministry in El Cenizo late last year, she did so secure in the knowledge that the ministry she began would be carried on by those who worked and learned by her side.