There were 52 sisters in the Mission Departure Ceremony in 1952, all heading to different parts of the world. Sister Theresa Lisak’s assignment was to be a pioneer in Chile, going just two years after the first Sisters arrived in Galvarino.
Sister Theresa hails from Michigan City, IN. After two years at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne, she entered Maryknoll in 1948 and completed her B.E. at Maryknoll Teachers College.
In Chile the sisters were asked tow ork for the education of the very poor. The staffed Catholic schools for the poor in various dioceses and Sister Theresa taught in urban schools for her first 11 years in Chile, getting to know the families and collaborating with parish activities. In the 1960s, she left the formal classroom to live in a marginated area of Santiago working in community development with a community of four Maryknoll sisters. Justice as an integral part of evangelization was stressed and the Church defended human dignity and human life. With courses, meetings and visiting their neighbors, the sisters encouraged the people as they began to solve their own problems, and collaborated with those efforts.
In 1973, Sister Theresa was assigned to the Western US Region and taught English as a Second Language to Spanish-speaking adults in San Diego Community College. She was very active in assisting quite a number of new and old students in obtaining permanent residency under the Amnesty Program during the 1980s. She earned her M.A. in education from San Diego State University. As friendship grew with her students, she helped them with their problems regarding citizenship, employment, social security, et cetera.
Currently, Sister Theresa is part of the Chi-Ro Community at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.