Sister M. Theodora Abreu,CSC
(November 15, 1921 - February 28, 2012)
Word has been received of the death of Sister M. Theodora (Abreu) who died at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Sister Theodora received her nursing degree from Saint Mary’s College of Nursing in San Francisco, California, in 1943. Three years later she entered the congregation as an experienced healthcare professional. Just two years into her formation she was assigned to full-time active ministry as a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was well prepared and accepted the challenge with equanimity. Sister Theodora had a wonderful mellow personality and immediately was recognized as a perfect candidate for an administrative role. She was an intelligent, mature person of good judgment, well equipped to take on her assigned task of director of the School of Nursing in Boise, Idaho, and then in Salt Lake City, Utah. Administration in hospitals and nursing services in various hospitals in Utah, Indiana, Idaho and California followed. She was so able and agreeable that she could be placed wherever there was a need, a blessing to anyone with the responsibility of filling ministry openings. It was not a surprise when she was soon tapped to become part of the provincial team for the Western Region.
In 1979 Sister Theodora’s apostolic zeal was ignited when she became director of the Gerontology Department at the University of Portland in Oregon. Delving into the needs of the elderly that this position entailed was a revelation and a spark that lit the fire of her own desire to serve this segment of God’s people. Her work in gerontology was an excellent preparation for the new ministry she embraced. Working in home healthcare for two years confirmed her eagerness to pursue her new-found love.
In 1983, as a member of Holy Redeemer Parish ministry team in Portland, Oregon, Sister Theodora immersed herself in every aspect of life that affected the elderly of the parish. Here she thrived. She became all things to all of them, and was “on call day or night” to meet the needs of her special clientele. As the Eucharistic ministry to the homebound apostolate grew, she recruited other parish members to prepare for this important service.
Multi-tasking became a way of life for Sister Theodora. She did her clients’ banking, paid their bills, helped them prepare their wills and even assisted them in planning their funeral arrangements. She took them shopping and to doctor’s appointments, where her nurses training made it possible for her to give excellent support and guidance. In addition to all of this, she became a sophisticated fundraiser because she saw a need for improved accommodations for the elderly and disabled of the parish. The funds raised covered most of the cost of a ramp for accessibility, a heating unit for the parish hall, and restroom facilities for the hall and the church.
Sister Theodora received a number of awards for her dedication and service to the elderly but as she wrote, “I have found this ministry very rewarding and while I don’t help others for the glory it may bring me, I know that I have made a difference in the lives of many.” What greater reward could a person want?
Funeral arrangements are as follows: Reception of the body on Monday, March 5, 2012, at 4:30 p.m. with the Mass of Resurrection on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. All of these ceremonies will take place in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. May Sister Theodora rest in peace.