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Obituary: Sister Theresa Corcoran, SC, former General Secretary of Sisters of Charity of Halifax

By Special to The Pilot
Posted: 6/5/2009

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Sister Theresa Corcoran, SC Courtesy photo

Sister Theresa (Leo Clare) Corcoran, a Sister of Charity of Halifax for 56 years, died in Wellesley on May 27 following a courageous battle with cancer. She was born in Dorchester on June 14, 1928, the daughter of John and Mary (Merrigan) Corcoran. Educated at St. Peter and St. Patrick Schools in Dorchester and Roxbury, Theresa entered the Sisters of Charity after receiving her B.A. degree from Emmanuel College, Boston. Her family had recently established a scholarship at her alma mater in her honor.

Professed in 1953, her first assignment was in the grammar schools of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; she then taught high school at the Academy of the Assumption, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. After receiving her Masters degree from Villanova, she went on to receive her Ph.D. degree from Georgetown. Sister Theresa was appointed to the History department of Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, where she spent most of her teaching career. When she returned to her native city, she took a teaching position at Aquinas College, Milton. In her academic career Sister Theresa published two books: ‘‘Vita Dutton Scudder’’ and ‘‘A History of Mount St. Vincent University: A Vision Unfolding.’’

From 1980-1988, Sister Theresa served on the General Council of the Sisters of Charity. As General Secretary, she hid deep conscientiousness and trustworthiness under an affable manner and a dry wit. Sister Theresa will always be remembered for her great love of her family. One of her greatest joys in her last weeks of illness was reading her brother Joe’s account of their childhood ‘‘Wasn’t that a Time: A Corcoran Family Memoir.’’ Her sisters in religion will always remember her for her strict sense of fairness. She was the quiet, unobtrusive champion of the underdog, generous and willing to share her many gifts of intelligence, loyalty, and generosity.

Sister Theresa’s funeral Mass was celebrated at Mount St. Vincent Chapel, Wellesley on May 30. Father C. Paul Rouse was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Following the funeral Mass Sister was buried in St. Mary Cemetery, Needham. Survivors from her “two families” are the Sisters of Charity and her brothers Joseph and Leo and their wives; her sisters Claire Carten, Bernadette Richards and Frances Richter and her many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and grand nephews.