Current Mission Location – Maryknoll Sisters Center- Maryknoll, NY
Theresa Lisak was born January 1, 1929 to Ann (Wintuch) Lisak and Walter Lisak in Michigan City, IN. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Theresa graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Michigan City in 1946. After graduating from high school, she attended St. Francis College in Fort Wayne, IN for two years.
Theresa entered the Maryknoll Sisters at their Center in NY September 6, 1948 and completed her Bachelor of Education degree at Maryknoll Teachers College. She pronounced First Vows at the Center March 7, 1951 and Final Vows March 7, 1954 in Chile.
Sister Theresa’s first mission assignment was to Chile. There were 52 Sisters in the Mission Departure Ceremony in 1952, all heading to different parts of the world. Her assignment was to be a pioneer in Chile, going just two years after the first Sisters had arrived in Galvarino, Chile.
In Chile, the sisters were asked to work for education of the very poor. They staffed Catholic schools for the poor in various dioceses but 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 was an integral part of evangelization and stressed by the Church defending 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 1969, Theresa returned to the USA for studies earning a Masters of Arts in Counseling/Guidance from the University of California-Western in 1970.
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 a Master of Arts in Education from San Diego International College in 1979. As her friendship grew with her students, she helped them with their problems regarding citizenship, employment, social security, et cetera.
In 2014 Sister Theresa Retired to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. Currently, she is an active member of the Chi-Ro Community at the Center.