Mother Theresa Willingman, O.S.P. (1831-1907)

The sixth Superioress of the Order was Reverend Mother Theresa Willingman, a native of Madison, N.J., who spent nearly her whole life with the Oblate Sisters, having been placed with them at the early age of five years. When she was sixteen years old she entered the novitiate. She taught school and was for many years the principal music instructress. She was assistant Superioress for a number of years previous to here election as head of the Order. On account of a defect in her hearing it was necessary for her to resign the office of Superior. It is to Mother Theresa that the Sisters are indebted for the Annals of the Order, as it was the greatest pleasure for her to preserve them. She was especially devoted to her community and had the greatest esteem for the sacred priesthood. During her illness she was visited by His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons. After having spent sixty years in the service of her Divine Spouse, she departed this life on the 9th of February, 1912. Right Reverend Bishop Corrigan, spiritual director of the Sisters, was the celebrant at the High Mass of Requiem. He was assisted by Reverend James Holden, Pasto of St. Jerome’s Church, as deacon, and by Reverend Father Olert, C.SS.R., of Annapolis, as subdeacon. Reverend Father Evers, C.S.J., of St. Barnabas Church, was Master of Ceremonies. An eloquent sermon was preached by Reverend J.B.R. Matthews, of St. Cyprian’s Church, Washington, D.C. The Sisters regret that this sermon was not published. In the sanctuary, on this occasion, were Monsignor George Devine, of St. John’s’; Reverend Father Donleys, S.J., of Loyola College; Reverend Edward Devine, of St. John’s; Reverend Father McCabe, of St. John’s; Reverend T. George, C.SS.R., of St. James; Reverend James Albert, J.F., of St. Joseph’s Seminary; Reverend Father Christopher, C.P., of St.  Joseph’s Monastery; Reverend Joseph Butsch, of St. Joseph’s Seminary; Reverend James Nally, J.F., of St. Joseph’s Church; Reverend C.R. Uncles, J.F., of Epiphany College; Reverend John Plantvigne, J.F., of St. Francis Xavier’s Church; Reverend P.A. Urigne, S.S., of St. Mary’s Seminary; Reverend A. Boyer, S.S., of St. Mary’s Seminary, and Reverend Thomas E. Stapleton, Chaplain of the Convent. The Mass was sung by the Sisters. Mother Theresa’s remains were placed in the Sisters’ lot in Bonnie Brae Cemetery.

An Oblate, Blossoms Gathered From the Lower Branches, Or, The Little Work of an Oblate Sister of Providence (Baltimore: Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1914), 17-19.

 

NOTE: The Oblate Sisters of Providence were founded in Baltimore in 1829 expressly for African-American women. The other two communities so founded are the Holy Family Sisters and the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary.

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