During the recent General Assembly of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the nation’s bishops conducted the required canonical episcopal consultation on the sainthood cause of Servant of God Mary Teresa Tallon, the daughter of Irish immigrants from New York who could be on her way to becoming America’s next saint.
According to the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate website, the order founded by Mary Tallon in 1920, she was born Julia Teresa Tallon on May 6, 1867, just two years after the end of the Civil War. The seventh of eight children born to Irish immigrants, she spent her childhood on a farm in the Mohawk Valley near the city of Utica, New York in a hamlet called Hanover.
The family’s deep faith inspired a deep longing within Julia Teresa to belong entirely to God from a very young age. Even though she had little or no exposure to religious sisters in her small rural parish, she knew by the age of 12 that this was her call in life. Even though her mother greatly disapproved, Julia Teresa had a strong and determined spirit and eventually achieved her goal.
At the age of 19, she entered the Holy Cross Sisters of South Bend, Indiana and spent 33 years with the sisters teaching a variety of subjects in Catholic schools.
“All the while God was preparing her for her future work and enlightening her mind as to the nature of the mission He would give her – the founding of a contemplative-missionary Congregation for the streets and homes, to teach the faith and counsel, and especially to reclaim lapsed and uninstructed Catholics for the Heart of the Good Shepherd,” the website states.
“On the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1920, when she arrived in New York City to begin this work, the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate were born.”
With her characteristic determination, the woman now known as Mother Mary Teresa plunged into her new calling, which she would always refer to as “the cause” or “the original vocation” which she believed came straight from the Heart of her Beloved.
She devoted the rest of her life to being a friend to the downtrodden, to sinners, the poor and the neglected.
“At the same time, she was doggedly persistent, never giving up in her quest for the highest values—sanctity for herself, for her Community, and for her ‘specials,’ God’s little ones. ‘Make every soul count!’ ‘Never give up!’ These were the mottoes she gave her Congregation for its mission.”
During the last 20 years of her life, she suffered disabling illnesses but persisted in carrying out the administration of the Congregation while giving no sign of her suffering to the Community.
But it became obvious on February 10, 1954, when she suffered a fall in her room and became critically ill.
As her community records: “Just before the Anointing, she said in a strong, clear voice, ‘I thank God for the graces He gave the original vocation and for sustaining it since 1920, and pray Him to continue.’
“Of the vocation she said, ‘I leave everything in God’s hands, who gave the wonderful vocation. He can give it to someone else as He gave it to me—and more effective than in me … As for me, I’ll be glad to go to God and under Him care for you all. He loves you more than I do’.”
She was to linger for another month before dying on the evening of March 10, 1954.
She was declared a Servant of God in 2013, and her cause for canonization is now being considered.
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