Sister Mary Teresita Stewart
1920 – 2011
Born: 12th May 1920
Entered Religious Life: 15th October 1956
Died: 21st April 2011
Moira Aileen Stewart was born on the 12th May 1920 in South Africa. She was the youngest of three daughters born to Willy John and Ada (nee Kenny) a sister for Hilda and Norah. Her father was a doctor with the British Army and her mother was a nurse. Moira’s father died when she was just five years old and her mother with very little funds was reliant on the British Army education for her daughters. Anxious that the girls would receive a Catholic education they went to Holland initially for schooling and very quickly became fluent in the language. Sometime later her mother was appointed as a House Mother in a small Catholic boarding school in England which meant the girls could leave Holland and continue their education in Kent.
On completion of her education Moira then trained as a nurse in St Thomas’ Hospital in London, this was during the war and her mother’s family worried about their sister and her daughters, persuaded them to travel to America, where they lived for a time in Chicago and later in Portland, Oregon. In 1952 the family then travelled to Zambia at the request of Dr Kevin Barry who had married Norah and was settled in Ndola. Moira took up the post of receptionist nurse at Dr Barry’s surgery and Hilda worked as a pharmacist in the Mine hospital. While in Ndola they worked alongside many Irish Missionaries and it was in 1956 that Moira left Zambia to travel to Mount St Annes’ Milltown and enter with the Sisters of Charity.
On the day of her clothing Moira was given the name Sister Mary Teresita and in 1959 following her profession she was missioned to St Vincent’s Hospital on St Stephen’s Green for a short time before leaving for England to study midwifery. On completion of this course she returned once more to St Vincent’s for about two years before returning once again to Zambia, where she spent a short time in Chivuna learning Tonga and then was a member of the community in Chikuni for about two years. Zambian Independence took place in 1964 and as Sister Teresita had a South African passport it was feared that she might become a persona non grata under the new regime so she was brought back to Ireland and on her return took out an Irish passport. She returned once more to Chikuni for a little over a year and returned to Ireland once more to St Vincent’s Hospital in 1968. During the relocation of the Hospital from St Stephen’s Green to Elm Park Sr Teresita was in charge of the Pembroke Nursing Home. From 1974 — 1980 she served as local leader in the Hospital community, and then undertook a course in theology in Maynooth which on completion saw her travel to California where for a year she ministered in a pastoral role in Marycrest. She returned once more to Ireland and served six years as local leader at Linden Convalescent Centre in Blackrock, on completion of this term she returned once more to the community at St Vincent’s and was engaged in pastoral ministry in the Private Hospital for some time.
Sister Teresita retired from ministry in 2000, her hearing and sight had deteriorated to a level that she moved to Loyola House in Merrion, were she remained for about ten years before moving to St Oliver’s were she spent her last months, appreciative always of visits from the sisters and her nieces and nephews, for whom Auntie Moira was very special.
While Sister Teresita was a very quiet gentle woman, she had a great interest in current affairs and loved reading; as her sight deteriorated she learned how to use the computer to magnify print so was able to continue with her favourite pastime. She loved to hear news of the congregation and had a great interest in the ministries in which sisters were involved, and loved in particular news of Zambia. A kind and caring woman she reached out to many in her own gentle way and was greatly admired and loved by many of those who had worked alongside her in St Vincent’s and by the staff in both Loyola House and St Oliver’s.
She died peacefully early on Holy Thursday 21st April 2011 and was laid to rest in the community cemetery in Donnybrook on Holy Saturday.
May she rest in peace.