Eulogy for Sister Therese Richstatter — Dec. 21, 1929 – April 13, 2018
Vigil: 7 p.m. April 16, Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Marilyn Wall
Live out your whole life with one desire only, to be what God desires you to be
In nature, grace and glory in time and in eternity. (Maxim #73)
Sister Therese Richstatter was born on Dec. 21, 1929 in the Clay Center Hospital. She was the youngest of two children with a sister named Frances who was a year and a half older than herself. Her parents were Edward and Martha (Klemm) Richstatter and they lived on a farm south of Greenleaf, Kan. She was baptized in St. Michael’s Church in Kimeo and given the name Anna Elizabeth.
Kimeo, at that time, was a thriving and faith-filled community centered around the Catholic Church. There were families on practically every section and most of the families were large. There were two masses on Sunday morning and the Church was full for both masses. The Church was (and still is) large and beautiful, its steeple can be seen for miles around. Anna and her sister attended a one room school half a mile from their home. On Saturdays they attended religious instructions. The Sisters of St. Joseph taught religious vacation school every summer in Kimeo. It was there that Anna first met our sisters. She and Frances received their First Holy Communion together. Anna had just completed first grade.
Therese wrote in her life review: “I was born at the beginning of the depression and we were poor. Because there were no boys in our family, my sister and I helped with the chores on the farm. I attended Green High School in Green, Kan. I boarded with a family who owned a furniture store there. In high school I played basketball and was in the junior and senior plays. It was in high school that I first felt called to religious life. I used to read missionary magazines and wanted to be a missionary. I attribute my religious vocation primarily to my parents who set a good Christian example. They never encouraged me to enter religious life and I felt that they would rather that I didn’t. But they never did anything to make it difficult for me to do so.”
“After I graduated from high school in 1948, I worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia. I entered the convent on Sept. 7, 1949. I received the habit on March 19, 1950 and was given the name Agnes Therese. I later dropped Agnes from my name. I made final vows on March 19, 1954. The Novitiate was a most happy experience. There were 15 of us in our band.”
The only surviving members of her band are Sisters Alice Marie Stalker and Rita Ann Mazanec.
“My mother died July 20, 1954 and my father died Dec. 16, 1958. My sister, who had crippling arthritis since she was sixteen, died April 14, 1978. This was one of the hard things for me. When other sisters went home for visits, I had no family left to visit.”
Therese graduated from Marymount in 1967. She then earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. During her studies there she wrote a paper titled: “Love in the Epistles of Paul” I will quote from that paper later and that is why the readings tonight and tomorrow at Mass are from St. Paul and on love.
Therese loved her years of teaching, and said that one of her favorite years was her first mission year at St. Joseph and Ann School in Chicago. She also taught at Concordia, Clyde, Cawker City, Grand Island, Booneville, Tipton and Salina. She particularly enjoyed preparing students for First Holy Communion. She also enjoyed being Sacristan, and later, Eucharistic Minister and taking communion to the sick wherever she was missioned. In 1987 she earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Emporia State University and then was librarian at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Topeka. She had a great love of learning and was very well read.
Of her own spirituality, Therese said: “My experience of God is a constant presence, who has always been there in my life as long as I can remember”.
In her composition on love, she identified this reality also: “Here faith does not mean adhering to God’s word so much as belonging to Christ in a gift of oneself to God which is so total that it permits God to communicate God’s life to us and to work in us.”
Is this not also an apt description of our ministry of presence?
Therese also, over the years of her ministry, engaged in many activities as volunteer and this speaks to her love and compassion for people. She taught religion in Huntington Beach, Calif., in a program called Sonshine. She also taught reading in a summer enrichment program on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. In Topeka, she volunteered at the public library and the Better Business Bureau, taught RCIA and passed mail on Saturday mornings at St. Francis Hospital. At Medaille, she volunteered in the Green Thumb Program.
In her Commitment to Mission and Life Statement for the year 2015-2016, Therese spoke directly out of the experience of life that has been hers in her later years and once again identified her experience of presence to God. “I sit and wait, unable to do my own care; I wait for when others decide it is time. My prayer is waiting … waiting for meals, Mass, communion. May God bless my waiting, and God’s desire in my life.”
Therese, your wisdom, knowledge, sense of humor and your givenness have enriched us all. We are grateful for your life among us and know that now you are totally in God and present to us and encouraging us in all ways.
I would like to close with a blessing from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 17-19.
“May Christ, who has dwelt in your heart through faith,
And has been the root of charity and the foundation of your life,
Enable you to grasp fully with all the holy ones,
The breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love,
And to experience this love which surpasses all knowledge,
So that you may attain to the fullness of God”.
Memorials for Sister Therese Richstatter may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O. Box 279, Concordia KS 66901. To make an online donation in Sister Therese Richstatter’s memory, click on the button below: