• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 08:30

Eulogy: Sr Theresa Coleman (22.01.1930 - 8.11.2022)

srtheresacoleman 250'This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased’

These words from the Gospel of Matthew capture well the driving force behind Sr Theresa’s life. She had an absolute trust and deep faith in God. On Tuesday, 8th of November she came face to face with her God whom she had so lovingly and faithfully served as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for over seven decades.

To Theresa’s brother Phillip, sister Kathleen, brother-in-law Ben, nieces and nephews and all Theresa’s friends, who loved her so much and are deeply saddened by her death, we offer our deep sympathy and love. You know well her deep love for you, her pride and joy in you, and her gratitude to you.

Theresa was born in Mascot, NSW, on the 22nd January 1930, to George and Lillian Coleman, the sixth of eight children. Her life encompassed the Depression, the pre-war years and the Second World War. Theresa’s father was a Carpenter, building many homes in the Mascot area. During the Depression it was very hard as he experienced long periods without work. Because Theresa’s mother was a good manager the family never went without the necessities of life. Theresa said she grew up in a happy family, sound in the practice of the Catholic faith; after the difficult years of the Depression she recalled enjoying picnics with the family.

Theresa began her schooling at St Bernard’s Mascot and completed her studies at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington. I think it is true to say that Theresa was always an OLSH girl at heart, having a great love for her alma mater. It delighted her that in her final years her room at St Joseph’s overlooked Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, where she still felt a deep connection.

After some years working as a finance assistant in an office in Sydney Theresa felt called to religious life. On the 30th  of  May 1948 she entered the novitiate in time to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, with whom she shared a deep spiritual relationship.

She was professed as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on 6th January 1950.  During the next two years she studied to become a teacher and in subsequent years completed a degree in Science, at Sydney University. This was at a time where the study of the Sciences had been predominately reserved for males.

To say that Theresa was a passionate educator is an understatement; Theresa devoted herself to the ministry of education for nearly forty years.  She taught at St Paul’s Bentleigh and our OLSH Colleges in Bentleigh and Kensington, and St John’s College in Darwin. Theresa worked tirelessly to advance education for girls, especially in the areas of maths and science.

Theresa was a very gifted educator who was respected and appreciated by her pupils, their parents, and staff members. She had empathy, understanding and skill when students found maths and science challenging and so enabled them to learn more effectively. She was, however, also a teacher who extended the abilities of those more interested in scientific subjects and was able to transmit some of her own enthusiasm for these disciplines.   

When contacted about her death the immediate response from her former students was one of praise, saying: ‘Sr Theresa was an excellent teacher, kind, well prepared, she made us laugh, we loved her’.  She is remembered for her ability to relate so beautifully to her students, always showing a genuine interest in them and was ready to listen to any difficulties or concerns they had.

Later Theresa was responsible for school administration as deputy principal. In this position she took great interest in the education and welfare of the girls in the schools and cared for the staff, who have said they appreciated the time, support and interest she showed them.

Theresa’s contribution has not been confined to the school scene. In her later years she was involved with our Associates and is well known for her wonderful hospitality, leadership and organization of retreats, spirituality days and Pilgrimages to Issoudun. Our Associates remember her with fondness and are grateful for her wisdom and her interest in them and their families. Theresa was a deeply spiritual woman; she had a deep and personal love for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart which was inspiring for others. Her passion for our Charism and love of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart led her to work tirelessly at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at Randwick where she was able to spread this devotion through her witness. She imported from Issoudun, Rome and the Philippines all kinds of items relating to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, statues, medals, key rings and pictures. Theresa loved opening the piety store and selling her many and varied religious items.

Those of us who lived, worked and shared community with her, were enriched by her genuine care for others, her compassion and positive attitude. She was courteous to all, spoke ill of no one and rejoiced in the successes and achievements of others.  Theresa drew her strength from her deep desire to love as Jesus loved, excluding no one.

When it was becoming apparent that Theresa’s health was failing and she was asked to transfer to St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility, she accepted the decision with her typical graciousness. Her lovely smile reflected the joy she experienced whenever you visited her at St Joseph’s where she was beautifully cared for until her death.

Theresa was a people’s person, she loved being with and talking to people on any level.
She loved life, she saw beauty in people, nature and in her work.
She was totally committed to everything, her prayer life, her apostolate and especially helping others come to know Jesus and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.  Theresa was just a lovely, lovely person, a woman of integrity, she lived her entire religious life as a whole-hearted gift to God and God’s people, in quiet fidelity and without fanfare. Her legacy to us is the faith-filled and gracious acceptance of one who had come to terms with life and what it asks of us. She was simply a beautiful Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

We will be ever grateful to George, Lilian and the Coleman family for the gift of Theresa to our Congregation!

And how good of God to leave her with us all these years, and what a gift God gave us in her! Go in peace dear Theresa united with your beloved who loved you into life and says, ‘This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased’.

Thank you for your joyful, prayerful presence, your kindness, graciousness, good humour; and for your beautiful smile that lit up our hearts.


Sr Philippa Murphy
Provincial Leader


17th November 2022