The Ministerial History of
Sr. M. Theresa Jackson, RSM
R.I.P. March 9, 2018
by Sister Susan Frazer - Administrator, Sisters of Mercy in Jamaica
Sister Theresa (affectionally known as T.J.) has had a colorful and varied religious life with 90% of her ministry spent working for her Church, which she dearly loved.
Before beginning her long ministerial duties in Church work however, T.J. also spent time in the following areas:
Child care at Alpha Boys' School and St John Bosco for a total of 11 years
For a short time at Holy Trinity as Assistant Sec/Bursar with Sr. Philomena who was then the Principal
As Financial Manager of the Sisters of Mercy and as Administrator in the Alpha Business Office for a total of 7 years
Terry was also actively involved in issues of justice through her membership in the Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) to promote peaceful and fair elections in Jamaica
Throughout T.J.'s life, she remained involved and very committed to the life and work of our Sisters in Central and South America through the Latin American Caribbean Conference and support our sisters in CASA (Central and South America).
In 1974 Sr. M. Bernadette Little, the Mercy Superior at the time, volunteered T.J. for what became known as the Rural Lay Leadership Training Team as the Sisters of Mercy's contribution to the Church. Terry was thrilled.
Terry's involvement in the Lay Leadership Programme caused her to live in a variety of locations throughout Jamaica. Port Antonio, Linstead, May Pen, Morant Bay and Kingston. In 1980, not finding a Pastor who was willing to work with the Team, Archbishop Samuel Carter, SJ., decided to disband the Rural Team.
In 1984, after working in a variety of other situations still within the Church community, Terry, along with several other religious from other communities,
Sr. Maureen Clare who is here being one of them, designed a programme on the model of the Laity Training of the Rural Team at St. Michael's Seminary and began with the first group of about 80 participants from Urban parishes.
In 1993 Archbishop Carter approached Sr. Theresa Lowe Ching, the then Superior, to ask if T.J. could be released to take charge of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre which he was just about to open on the grounds at St. Michael's Seminary. So, with Sr. Theresa's approval in September of 1993 she assumed the role of Director of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre and Coordinator of the Laity Training Programme run by St. Michael's Seminary.
During the years there were many changes of Archbishops. Following Archbishop Carter came Archbishop Edgerton Clarke, then Archbishop Lawrence Burke, SJ., Archbishop Donald Reece followed by Archbishop Charles DuFour.
After many wonderful and fruitful years in Laity training and Pastoral work, it was to Archbishop Charles DuFour that she handed in her resignation in July 2015 after 22 years as Director of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre and 32 years with the LLTP at St. Michael's and later, in 1993 as Coordinator of CAREP.
I say all of this because I believe that T.J.'s work with the Church was often a silent and invisible work. She was not ordinarily front and centre, and I know she never aspired to be, but I think many did not understand or appreciate the work she was called to do.
To say that T.J. was passionate about being Jamaican is an understatement. She was "fiercely" Jamaican and let this be known to all who would listen.
Terry stood firm in her beliefs and took seriously the maxim of our Foundress Catherine McAuley, "to have great confidence in what you do and what you think best. State your opinion and always act with courage."
May we too follow her lead and always act with courage and confidence.