By Tammy Townsend Denny, TI Executive Director
The Theresian Foundation recently held their annual meeting and call to serve. Join with me in welcoming the new officers and members of the Foundation Board of Directors:
President - Stephanie Hawkins, Illinois
Vice President - Sharon Staffel, Texas
Secretary - Marilyn Arendt, Texas
Treasurer - Stephanie Wallace, Montana
Lynn Moroux, Louisiana
Mary Anne Camello, Philippines
Claudia Pieske, Illinois
The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support to Theresians International in perpetuity. The Foundation Board of Directors achieves its mission by meeting investment goals established by the Foundation Board, receiving contributions and donations, conducting fundraising activities that are related to and support the work and mission of Theresians, making an annual distribution to Theresians International (TI) in accordance with policies and procedures established by the Board, and balancing investment growth goals with current spending needs of Theresians International.
While the Theresian Foundation and Theresians International work in collaboration with each other, each ministry is a separate legal entity with separate boards of directors, separate reporting requirements, and separate bank accounts. The Theresian Foundation is focused on managing the investment funds that began with an endowment fund established by our founder Msgr. Voss. These funds have continued to grow thanks to the generosity of Theresian benefactors. The Foundation distributes a set percentage of these funds annually to Theresians International.
To learn more about the Theresian Foundation, please visit Theresian Foundation FAQs. If you would like to consider a contribution to the Foundation, please visit Giving to the Foundation to learn more.
“Women’s Cry” exhibit
By Tammy Townsend Denny. TI Executive Director
A new exhibition recently opened at St. Peter’s Square in Rome called “Women’s Cry.” The online publication Aleteia reports:
“Organized by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), in collaboration with the Dicastery for Communication, the exhibition seeks to give visibility to women from the world’s peripheries, whose portraits are accompanied by quotes from Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti.”
I encourage you to watch this three-minute video about the “Women’s Cry” exhibit and to reflect on the images. As Theresians, we have dedicated ourselves to being women in support of women. How does “Women’s Cry” call to you about supporting women around the world?
By Tammy Townsend Denny, TI Executive Director
On May 14, we will celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States, a day to honor and recognize all the mothers in our lives. But for some of us, motherhood and Mother’s Day are complicated! And messy!
I agree with author Anne Lamott who says Mother’s Day “feels incomplete and imprecise.” The day seems to forget those who are mourning miscarriages, infertility, or death. It loses sight of birth mothers who place a child for adoption and foster parents who open their hearts and homes to other people’s children. It fails to adequately honor those who are caring for a child with mental or physical illness. And it does nothing for those who are caring for a parent. It misses grandparents and stepparents and aunts and uncles and dads and cousins and friends and teachers who do so many mom duties – if mom duties can even be defined. It forgets those who never knew their moms, those who have been abandoned or abused by their moms, and those who have moms (or children) who are incarcerated.
Mother’s Day feels awkward for many of us.
A few months back, a good friend called me in tears. Her stepson didn’t want her to attend a parent event at his school. He wanted his mom there, not his stepmom.
I shared with her my stepparenting experiences, recalling moments when I cleaned up, picked up, supported, calmed, cheered, cringed, and cried for my husband’s daughters. Yet, I have never been invited to be at their schools’ parent-teacher conferences or acknowledged in any sort of parenting role with them. That is because my husband’s two daughters have a mom. And it isn’t me, even though I sometimes do mom-like things for them.
The stepparenting experience, as awkward as it is, has taught me a lot about humility. I try to do the right things and be of service when I can even if my efforts may be rejected. I reminded my friend to do the same.
If this Mother’s Day feels incomplete and imprecise for you, you’re not alone. It’s a wonky kind of day.
I encourage you to spend some time praying with Eve or Mary or Mother Earth, if that sort of prayer speaks to you. I invite you to join me in letting go of the expectations and envy of flowers, chocolates, and overpriced brunch at overcrowded restaurants. Instead, embrace the support of women throughout the ages who have mothered us into being in all the complexity and messiness of life.
P.S. If you would like to recognize or remember a mothering influence in your life, consider making a donation to the Theresian Foundation with a “Celebrate Life” gift. Click here to donate. We will send the person of your choice a card acknowledging the gift.
Did you know that there is a very easy way to share the gift of Theresians with the world? Simply wear your Theresian membership pin to church, to the grocery store, or on a trip. It’s a small way to show that you are part of a global ministry of women in support of women.
If you have misplaced your pin or if you never received one, you can order pins online here.
I challenge you this summer to wear your pin when you’re out and about in the world, especially when you travel! You might be surprised to find Theresians you’ve never met!
P.S. Send the TI office photos of yourself wearing your membership pin in the world! We would especially love photos when you discover other Theresians on your journeys! Photos can be emailed to email@example.com.
By Tammy Townsend Deny, TI Executive Director
There is a bit of scripture that has always confused me. In Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, we hear Jesus calling out before his death, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
For years, I struggled to understand why the authors of Matthew and Mark would attribute this cry of seeming desperation to our Redeemer. Why would Jesus say God had abandoned him? It didn’t make sense to me.
Maybe you already know this, but I only recently learned that Jesus’ dying words in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark are the first lines of Psalm 22. This psalm is a lament that begins in hopelessness but ends in faith that our Creator is always with us.
The message in Matthew and Mark is not one of hopelessness, but rather one of hope. God, our Creator, is always with us. Every one of us. Even in moments when we feel abandoned, and the world does not make sense.
Jesus’ words on the cross have been on my heart lately as I try to make sense of a tragedy that our parish community recently experienced. A dear member of our church was killed by her mentally ill son. A leader in the parish, Beata organized retreats and led small faith communities. She radiated a Christ-like kindness and generosity, even as she faced the challenges of caring for an adult child with mental illness. Beata touched a lot of lives. And her death has stirred up emotional memories for me.
Nearly 30 years ago, my oldest brother was killed in a random act of violence by two men who were battling their own demons. Like Beata, my brother Ed was a kind and gentle soul who overflowed with generosity – one of the truly good people in this world. His death, Beata’s death, and the countless other violent deaths of truly good people make no sense to me. I am lamenting: God, have you abandoned us?
As I reflect on these tragedies and violence, I am also reminded of Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” We are called to forgive as we are forgiven. But forgiveness is a challenging process.
I’ve been told that one of the paths to forgiving someone is to pray for that person, asking for everything I would want for myself to be given to them.
With that in mind, I would like to ask a favor. This week, would you join me in praying for Beata’s son Michal? May he know God’s redemptive love and peace. And would you also pray with me for love and peace for David and Jason, the two men serving life in prison without parole for my brother’s death?
Let’s allow our lament to grow into faith in God’s loving presence. Through our collective prayers, may “the generation to come… proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought” (Psalm 22:32).
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, I encourage you to seek help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great resource: www.nami.org or 800-950-6264.