The following is an edited version of the eulogy for Sr Theodore Winter SJC delivered at her October 10 Funeral Mass at the POS Convent chapel.
Born in Tunapuna to Louis and Pauline Winter on April 24, 1924, Teresa Pauline was the fifth of eight children, six girls and two boys. She attended Tunapuna Girls’ Catholic School and then St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain, from 1935 to 1942.
It was not surprising to many when she entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny on January 23, 1943, as her whole demeanour spoke of goodness. She professed her First Vows on September 1, 1945 and assumed the name Sr Theodore of the Holy Heart of Mary. Her Final Vows were pronounced on September 1, 1951.
Immediately after her First Profession, Sr Theodore began her teaching career, and graduated from the then Catholic Women’s Training College in December 1950, gaining a distinction in Blackboard Drawing, Handicraft, Needlework (Theory and Practical). One of her many assignments was to the Nelson St Girls’ RC School.
One Sister recalling her around 1960: “I found her a jovial Sister, full of fun and most creative. She used to ask Sr Pia to save the eggshells ‘whole’ for her, which she painted and made of them decorations for Easter and Christmas, hanging them on coloured paper plates around the dining room in Port of Spain.”
Over the years, she also acquired academic Certificates in Dressmaking, by correspondence, from the London School of Fashion, and from the Saint Francis Xavier University (Coady International Institute), a Diploma in Social Leadership, covering adult education, cooperative organisation and community and social development. Also, a Literacy Tutoring Certificate from NALA (National Affiliation for Literacy Advance), Halifax.
Sr Theodore zealously set about her task of Mission. She was truly baptised and sent. In her Religious Life she was transferred 15 times in and out of T&T. She truly fulfilled the words of our Foundress Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey: “Life, my dear Sisters, is for each of us doing the will of God as it is made known to us moment by moment.”
She was missioned to Grenada on two occasions—to St George’s where she served as Principal for one year, 1948 to 1949 and started the Credit Union at the school. A Sister who lived with her at that time described her as being “prayerful, vivacious and ready to help, especially the needy and the Church. The children under her care grew to love her.”
But perhaps it is in Grenville where she left a deeper mark and is still remembered today. The Catholic school in Grenville was burnt in the political upheaval of the Gairy days in the early 1950s. The students had to occupy the church for classes. By 1965, a new school was ready, and Sr Theodore was asked to assume the role of principal. She was the first principal of this new establishment and held the reins for five years, bringing it to great heights spiritually, socially and academically. A Requiem Mass will be held in Grenville for the happy repose of her soul.
In 1970, Sr Theodore was transferred to St Lucia, and she laboured in the vineyard there for many years working in Gros Islet for four years, in Vieux Fort for seven years, and Castries.
One Sister recalls: “In Gros Islet she was able to utilise her Coady training at the RC school and set up a woodwork centre for boys. Using the soft wood balsa, she taught them to make ornamental objects by which they could become self-employed. She was in Vieux Fort when Hurricane Alan demolished the Infant School and took the entire roof off the Convent. She taught Religious Education, Spanish and Craft and in her spare time developed dozens of slides for Catechetics. She made lots of local wines from our local fruit and vegetables. The Community savoured plantain, rice, pommecythere aka golden apple, tamarind and banana wines!”
Over her missionary years, she was involved in Girl Guides. From 1953 to 1981, she was a Group Leader, and a District Divisional Commissioner Committee member from 1974 to 1981. She was also a licensed trainer and camper.
The Red Cross also benefitted from her dedication and commitment to helping the young grow and develop. She was a Junior Red Cross Group Leader from 1982 to 1993 and received the St Lucia Red Cross Certificate of Honour in recognition of distinguished service at its 50th Anniversary Awards in 1999.
One of Sr Theodore’s “fifteen calls to mission” was to our new Community in Dominica. She was a foundation member of that Community along with Sr Regina Leiba. She arrived there on September 3, 1993 and left in August 1996. She was involved in teaching in the St John’s primary school, parish work, serving on the Liturgical Committee, assisting with Eucharistic Services at outstations, serving as a Catechist, doing home visitation.
She then moved to San Fernando where she assisted in the care of our Convent with the chapel and assisting with the house accounts. She was also an encouraging presence to senior citizens.
Lourdes House, Arouca was her home for the last ten years and it was there she passed on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on Friday, October 4. She died very peacefully; the Sisters who were with her did not even realise she had drawn her last breath.