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Sr Therese Chaloux

List of deceased Sisters

Date of death 22/11/2019

Sister Therese Chaloux smsm

SMSM Sisters

Born:               16th August 1924

Professed:       2nd February 1954

Died:                22nd November 2019

Sr. Therese Chaloux was born on 16th August 1924 in Adams, Massachusetts, USA, the twelfth and second youngest child of Antoine Chaloux and Angeline Bazinet.  On 18th August she was baptised Cecile Therese. She was especially attached to her brother Pierre who was one year older.  Before entering the postulancy in Bedford, Massachusetts, she had worked in the National Bank for nine years.

After her profession on 2nd February 1954 as Sister Mary de la Salette, she was missioned to the then British Protectorate of the South Solomons and left the USA by ship in company with Sr. M. Philothea.  They arrived in the Solomon Islands on 11th June 1954 and Sr. Therese was initially placed at Tanagai to help in the school and the dispensary.  Sr. Therese had several changes of stations – Visale, Rokera, Wanoni Bay, Avuavu – until she was sent to Sydney to begin her teachers training in 1960. 

On her return at the end of 1961, Sr. Therese was sent to Avuavu as teacher and was later community leader.  In 1968, she was assigned to teach the DMI Sisters but at the end of that year went to Buma until 1972 when she went to France for her second novitiate and to USA for a catechetical course.  From 1974 to 1977, Sr. Therese was the Regional Leader, based in Honiara.   In February 1977, Sr. Therese moved to Buma and began working in Adult Education, a ministry which continued until just before her death.

Sr. Therese moved to Tangarare from 1984 and began a centre for adult learning.  Not only did she teach but she raised the money for the buildings, worked with the students in the gardens, baked bread and started a canteen to make the centre self-supporting.  Sr. Therese passed on the skill of baking bread in drum ovens to the people of the village.  Even though she was a teacher, when the nurse was away, Sr. Therese would deliver babies and generally care for the sick. For at least ten of her years there, she was the only SMSM in Tangarare.

Sister continued this work until January 2002 when she went on home leave before transferring to the Nazareth Apostolic Centre to teach the course for aspirants to priestly and religious life.  Once again, she worked with the students in the garden as well as preparing her classes.  When the Maryvale course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church was introduced, Sr. Therese would correct the papers and insist that the students re-write them until they reached the standard required.

Sr. Therese was a great linguist, learning not only Pijin and Gari, but also in several local dialects.  She insisted that the students at NAC speak to her always in English.  So, when they went to Malaita for pastoral experience, they were very surprised to hear Sr. Therese converse fluently in the language of the people there.  In 2009, Sr. Therese asked to return to the USA.  At the Mass for her farewell from the Solomon Islands, choirs from various parts of the Solomon Islands sang; the only one to understand all the hymns was Sr. Therese herself.

After a few years, the pull from the Solomon Islands was too strong and Sr. Therese asked to return and she arrived back in Honiara in December 2012.  In February 2013, she was assigned to Visale to teach English and life skills to the DMI postulants and novices.  She continued teaching English until her death.

Sr. Emanita smsm was living with Sr. Therese at Visale and they had enjoyed their usual time of recreation together before going to bed.  The next morning Sr. Emanita found Sr. Therese unconscious and called for the nurse.  It was clear that Sr. Therese was dying.  There was a gathering of Catholic men from all over the diocese and the Archbishop arrived to say the concluding Mass of the gathering.  The men from her beloved Tangarare were among those who gather around her bed to pray as she moved slowly from this life to the next. She died peacefully at midday and was buried at Visale the following day.

Sr. Therese was a remarkable woman, very self-effacing but very gifted.  Her father taught her to play the harmonica and she kept it with her.  She had a lovely voice and would yodel when the community had a musical evening. She was a life-long learner and did Diploma in Catechetics by distance education over seven years.  Sr. Therese was a hard worker and would do anything for others.

Sr. Therese lived our SMSM charism to the full.  She was a wonderful missionary always looking for ways to deepen the life and the faith of others; she had a great love for Mary and always promoted religious life.  Our Sisters in temporary vows and others loved to share their life and their struggles with Sr. Therese, knowing she would listen compassionately and speak wisely. Sr. Therese took great pride in her former students who became priests and religious.  The assistant parish priest of Visale was one of her students and the Superior General of the DMI had been her student and spoke beautifully about Sr. Therese at her funeral.

Surely, Sr. Therese was welcomed with “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  May she pray for us that we may always be faithful witnesses to our Lord Jesus.