2019 Jubilarian – Theresa (Bonaventure) Tenbusch

Sister Theresa Tenbusch grew up in Detroit, along with her four siblings (little brother Jimmy died very young) and was a member of Epiphany Parish. The faith she learned at home and school played a large role in her life, even as a child, but it was her first grade teacher ignited her thoughts of a religious vocation “She was very kind and helpful,” Sister Theresa remembers. “We didn’t have a lot to eat during the war, and the sisters would send us things all the time.” She attended Immaculata High School and joined the IHM community immediately after high school graduation. Her sister, Noreen, joined the community three years later.

Sister Theresa started her ministry teaching first-graders, first at St. John in Monroe. This was followed by two years at St. Gregory and three years at St. Boniface, both in Detroit. She was sent to Deland, Fla., to teach first grade at Our Lady of Fatima/St. Peter, and after three years, she returned to Michigan. She stayed at St. Mary in Wayne for four years, teaching grades two, three and four, and then ministered at Holy Redeemer in Detroit teaching fourth grade. This was followed by four years at St. Vincent de Paul in Detroit, teaching religion, biology and history.

A year spent at the County TB Intensification Program at Herman Kiefer Hospital in Detroit led her to a ministry in social work. Sister Theresa served at Herman Kiefer for two years and then became supervisor of the Wayne County Health Department’s TB clinics, heading up nine clinics at five hospitals in the county. This was followed by three years as a mental health social worker, supervising other social workers for the State of Michigan. For the next 24 years, she ministered at the Macomb/Oakland regional Center in a variety of positions; she also volunteered in New Orleans after one of the city’s big storms. As a social worker, she reapplied for her license at specified intervals. The application required her to outline her responsibilities, and after her third application, the state itself – not a college – issued her Master of Social Work degree because of the advanced level of her work.

Sister Theresa volunteered St. Margaret of Scotland Parish for two years before becoming the parish liaison for health care. In her “retirement,” she volunteers at St. Margaret, visiting the sick and taking Communion to the homebound as well as working with those who are homeless.

Sister Theresa finds the greatest joy in helping those in need. She notes that she has had some of the best teachers in the community who have supported her. She is grateful for the help she has had that has allowed her to deepen her faith. “I spend a lot of my time talking to God,” she notes.