By Dominique Johnson
Growing up in Valdez, Alaska Sr. Theresa Marie Harris, DC, never considered religious life. “It was not on my radar,” she said.
After high school, Harris went to the lower 48 for college and moved to Juneau to work as an accountant. She also volunteered at the Cathedral parish in Juneau and served on the Society of St. Vincent de Paul board.
Harris shared that she began discerning a religious vocation after hearing a homily at the Cathedral given by Bishop Edward Burns. She said that in the homily Bishop Burns shared, “that for those considering the priesthood or religious life, the diocese is here to support you.”
At that moment, something clicked for Harris. Knowing that others were discerning, “I started thinking, should I be discerning?”
For the next year, she prayed and discerned about religious life. About a year later, she reached out to the Daughters of Charity, via their website contact form.
The next month, Harris attended a virtual retreat to learn more about the community. She shared that during the one-week retreat, she was able to talk to a sister.
After the online retreat, Harris decided to attend a “Come and See” retreat in California. At that retreat, she was able to see what life was like living in community and the ministries the sisters take part in. Still, feeling called, she spent another week living with the Daughters of Charity in Utah.
Following the visit to Utah, Harris decided she wanted to join the Daughters of Charity. For her, “the Vincentian charism” of serving those in need and her experience with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul led her to the community.
While living in Juneau, Harris shared that the hospitality of Father Pat Casey, OMI, Sr. Marie Lucek, O.P and Sr. Dee Sizler, S.C. at young adult dinners, helped her to see that those who have chosen consecrated life are “very approachable.” Those nights “helped me get to know them as people, not just the person up at the altar.”
For those discerning the vocation of religious life, Harris encourages you to look for online retreats, materials, and contact the orders you are interested in.
Sr. Theresa Marie entered the seminary stage with the Daughters of Charity on Saturday, August 22, 2020, and will be ministering with the Daughters of Charity community in St. Louis.