Sister Theresa Kastner, most recently a missioner in Haiti, has been a Maryknoll Sister for over 50 years.
A native of Stratford, Ontario, Canada, she entered Maryknoll on October 18, 1962. Following completion of a bachelor’s degree in adult education at Mary Rogers College in Ossining, NY, Sister Theresa’s first assignment was to Taiwan in 1969. Following two years of language study, she taught English and sociology, and served as moderator of the Young Christian Workers group in the village of Hsin Chu, for nearly 10 years.
She returned to the United States in 1980, serving in Development and Admissions Departments at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining through 1984. Sister Theresa then completed a Master’s degree in pastoral studies at Loyola University, Chicago, in 1985. Sister Theresa then returned to Taiwan later that year, where she was involved in pastoral work with women, adult education, Marriage Encounters, women’s self-development courses and retreat director in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, until 2008. In 1995 she attended the Beijing NGO Forum on Women with ten other Sisters and five laywomen who represented Taiwan’s Sprout, a women’s concerns group.
Sister Theresa was then appointed co-director of orientation for Maryknoll Sisters, a position she held from 2009-2012. In 2014, she went to a new mission in Haiti, serving there for two years. During that time, she studied the Haitian Creole language and volunteered at the Granmoun Village, a residential area for abandoned elderly. She also taught basic English to Haitian Franciscan Sisters at an orphanage near her home.
At present, Sister Theresa is serving in the Development Depart at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in New York. She is also a retreat director, has given courses in adult journaling, as well as many courses on the Enneagram, a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships, in both Chinese and English, and trained others how to use it. She has also written a book about the Enneagram in both Chinese and English.
Speaking of the benefactors who have made her work of mission possible over the last 50-plus years, Sister Theresa says, “I don’t have the words to thank them. ‘Thank you’ seems so tiny compared to the astounding gift of generosity they have been in my life. I could never have done my ministry without them.”