Sister Theresa Jane Bellner, CSC

(August 4, 1924 - April 15, 2014)

Word has been received of the death of Sister Theresa Jane Bellner, who died at 7:55 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.

Sister Theresa Jane was a dedicated caregiver in every ministry to which she was assigned. Nursing service was her first love and she embraced that role as a student nurse in 1945 at Mount Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. There she learned the skills needed to care for the sick, and she immediately put these skills to good use in the infirmary at Saint Mary’s and later at Mount Carmel Hospital.

However, in 1952 she was asked to move from patient care to student care when she accepted the assignment to teach the second-graders at St. Mary’s School in Alexandria, Virginia. This began a divergent career of over 20 years as a primary grade teacher in the elementary schools of the East. Being a natural caregiver, Sister Theresa Jane nurtured the youngsters in her classroom with love and she rejoiced in their successes. Her ability to unlock the mysteries and joys of math for her small charges was a rightful source of pride for her.

In 1979 Sister Theresa Jane enthusiastically returned to the field of health care, but she began an intense preparation for her new assignment in a different aspect of the profession. She enrolled in El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, as a graduate student and earned a degree in the specialized field of home nursing. To further prepare herself, she attended the Texas Lozanov Learning Institute for language classes in Spanish. All of this effort resulted in Sister Theresa Jane’s outstanding success in her new position as visiting nurse under the government program at the Valley Home Health Agency in Raymondville, Texas.

It was her practice to visit her patients in their homes at least several times a week and more if there was a need. She delivered their medications, took their blood pressure and gave them the individual attention they craved. This was the perfect fit for her caregiving nature. She loved this ministry and interaction with her elderly patients even though it meant many long, tiring hours on the road. Using these same nursing skills and sensitive approach, Sister Theresa Jane worked for several years at Holy Cross Health Center in San Antonio, Texas, with the Brothers of Holy Cross until another need called her to Ohio.

All of her training and nursing skills were put to excellent use when her mother became seriously ill. Being a loving daughter, Sister Theresa Jane moved to Toledo, Ohio, to take care of her mother in her last illness. Sister was grateful to the congregation to be able to spend this time nursing her mother until her mother’s death in October 1989.

After her mother’s death, Sister Theresa Jane returned to Texas for eight years to work in parish ministry and to do volunteer work in Saint Anthony’s and Sacred Heart parishes in Raymondville, Texas. This was an extremely busy time for her because of her demanding schedule. While she directed the K-12 religious education for Saint Anthony’s Parish and the mission church at San Perlita, she also coordinated the joint ecumenical services with local churches and directed the planning committee to organize the annual Youth Day. Besides this involvement in parish work, Sister worked with the Ministerial Alliance in Raymondville in the food bank, plus collecting clothing and supplies for the poor. She made frequent trips to Sister Barbara Korem’s clinic in Metamorous, Mexico, bringing supplies and using her nursing skills to help with the many patients in need of care. Sister Maureen Cahill, who worked with Sister Theresa Jane in Texas, wrote of her, “Sister Theresa was completely dedicated to helping the poor and the sick and it was a privilege to be with her as well as well as Sister Barbara.” Besides all of this, Sister Theresa Jane also was a volunteer nurse for the local Baptist Hospice Program.

This remarkable giving religious received much of her stamina and spiritual strength from the Mass and the Eucharist which she loved. She was single-minded and focused when she attended Mass and smiled graciously when she extended her hands to receive the Eucharist. The Lord no doubt smiled a welcome to this caring and service-minded Sister of the Holy Cross. May Sister Theresa Jane rest in peace.


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