“IF YOU MAKE MY WORD YOUR HOME, YOU WILL INDEED BE MY DISCIPLE; YOU WILL LEARN THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE.” – JOHN 8:31-32
The scripture from the Gospel of John has guided Sister Therese O’Grady’s heart and helps her remember that her call to become a sister began as a child with reading the book, Damien the Leper. During that time, she had a child’s dream of going to the Island of Molokai and working with lepers. And since that time, Sister Therese credits her Benedictine Community for providing the opportunities in education and spiritual growth which have enabled her to follow her call to help others, especially in teaching prayer and spiritual guidance with a special passion for ministering to women.
Three events in Sister Therese’s life have contributed to her formation and awareness of her gifts for working in adult religious formation with Sister Marian Bellotti in Cheyenne, Wyoming . Through her experience, she became evermore aware of the keen sense of joy she experienced while working with adults. The second event occurred at a Holy Apostle’s parish staff retreat in Sedalia, Colorado, almost a decade later. Father Ed Kinerk, the retreat facilitator, asked the staff members to name what gifts they needed from each other. Many of the staff indicated that they needed Sister Therese to teach them about prayer and spiritual guidance. The third incident happened at La Puente Shelter in Alamosa, when a severely bruised and battered woman remarked one day, “It didn’t bother me much, until he went after the children.” Sister Therese realized at that moment how many women devalued their worth and gifts. This was another affirmation on her journey to minister to women and adults.
Sister Therese believes that “the greatest gift of women in the world and in the church is ‘love and forgiveness.’” Often these gifts are denied or ignored. Women’s energy, creativity and capacity for love and forgiveness are gifts that need to be encouraged and celebrated. “Just like the song says, but with a slightly different refrain, ‘What the world needs now are the gifts of love and forgiveness.’” This brings others to negotiating, collaborating and creating solutions. “Women must be encouraged to see their value and have awareness of their gifts by overcoming the fear of speaking out. Women of the third world have so much to teach us about overcoming fear and acting courageously.”
Sister Therese speaks with great passion about women and the need for recognizing their own giftedness as she continues to teach about prayer and spiritual guidance.