Helen Marie Carberry, born on December 18, 1919 in Jersey City, New Jersey, was the youngest of four children born to Irish immigrant parents, James and Mary Carberry. Sadly, her father was killed in an accident at work just two months before Helen's birth. Helen had two brothers, James and Thomas, and one sister, Catherine. Her young mother, widowed at 33, went to work to support her family. Helen was accepted to St. Michael's School at age 4. She entered the first grade and progressed successfully through the elementary and high school classes. Helen Carberry graduated from high school when she was just 16. She was soon employed as a comptometer operator. When she was 23, Helen applied to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. She was accepted as a postulant on July 31, 1943. Six months later, she received the religious habit and was given the name Sister Mary Teresa Catherine. Her two year novitiate program continued at St. Michael Novitiate in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. On February 2, 1946, Sister Teresa Catherine pronounced her First Vows.
After First Profession, Sister Teresa Catherine was assigned to parish catechetical centers in South River and Medford NJ. From 1951 to 1956, she taught classes at St. James High School in Penns Grove, NJ. Starting in 1956, Sister Teresa Catherine was appointed Principal in New Jersey Elementary Schools in Wayne, Fords, Rockleigh, Medford and Edgewater. During her 28 years of ministry in education, Sister Teresa Catherine took courses for a BA and MA at Seton Hall University. The year 1979 was a time of significant change for Sister Teresa Catherine's ministry. She was asked to consider administration of a Nursing Home. She enrolled in courses at St. Louis University; and then interned at The Jewish Home for the Aged in Somerset, NJ and St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. Sister Teresa Catherine became a licensed nursing home administrator in 1981. She was appointed Administrator of St. Joseph Home for the Blind in 1981 and served in this position until 1997. Sister Teresa Catherine was recognized as a skilled, professional administrator, who also presented a special warmth and hospitality to residents, employees and visitors.
In 1997, Sister Teresa Catherine retired from her administrative position. She resided at the convent for the next three years and volunteered in pastoral care and fund raising. When her physical disability worsened, Sister Teresa Catherine, now age 92 moved to the Infirmary at St. Michael Villa in 2011. Her interest in community affairs continued, and she expressed her thoughts and opinions. Toward the end of 2014, Sister Teresa Catherine's health deteriorated. She was placed on hospice care in March 2015. She died on April 25, 2015 at St. Michael's Villa. She was 95.
During her lifetime, Sister Teresa Catherine touched the lives of many persons. Over 110 persons visited St. Michael's for her wake services on April 28th. The funeral mass on April 29, 2015 was offered by Father James Pagnotta, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Jersey City, NJ. Sister Teresa Catherine was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, NJ. She was pre-deceased by her sister, Sister Marian James Carberry, CSJP, and her brothers, Monsignor James Carberry and Thomas Carberry. Sister Teresa Carberry was survived by her niece Ann Marie Carberry Comandatore and her husband Emmanuel Comandatore, seven grandnieces and grandnephews and many cousins.
"We must be signs of hope and healing in the midst of the cultural reality in which we find ourselves."
Ann Rutan, CSJP