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By Sharon Bock,
Like many Associates, Theresa Fuller has a long history with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, going back to her earliest school days: kindergarten! And the memories don’t end there. Theresa went to All Saints, a grammar school, and Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, California, in the San Francisco Bay area.
The circle was unbroken when Theresa decided to enter the Adrian Dominican Sisters after graduation, choosing Sister Jane Catherine, OP, her kindergarten teacher, as her sponsor. Of her days as a vowed member, Theresa writes, “I loved what being in the convent taught me: adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. That was the greatest gift of all.”
Theresa withdrew from the Congregation, but not from her devotion to the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Although it wasn’t until the 1990s that she first heard about the Associate program, she immediately welcomed the opportunity to become affiliated with the Congregation again. “I joined right away as I missed my Sisters,” she said, adding that she looks forward to seeing them at Mission Group gatherings. She shares spiritual and emotional support, and, as occasions permit, makes financial contributions to the Congregation.
Theresa loved teaching. Her early experience teaching K-8 children dance steps for spring concerts and her talent for directing plays at the Kino Institute in Arizona paved the way for her subsequent profession as a dance and music therapist. Through this ministry, she touched so many lives: patients in mental health services and in a jail ward, elderly clients at convalescent hospitals, and those in recovery from substance abuse.
Now that they are retired, Theresa and her husband, Bill, volunteer at Birthright of San Lorenzo, a crisis pregnancy center. Bill is President of the Board and Theresa is Co-director of Daily Activities. Together they work diligently in many aspects of the organization: fundraising, marketing, public speaking, volunteer training and one-to-one contacts with the women who seek assistance at the center. Theresa also provides resource information to homeless individuals, guiding them to places where they can get food and other forms of assistance.
Theresa’s dedication to Birthright is a concrete example of her commitment to reverencing life. She empowers women who face difficult life choices, encouraging them to give birth even in discouraging circumstances. Through this work, as well as her interactions with others, Theresa makes peace and seeks – and speaks – truth.
Theresa is also a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish. She spends time in weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and attends Bible studies and lectures on Christian life and spirituality.
Theresa and Bill love to travel. They travel by car to visit friends and go sight-seeing throughout the country. They have enjoyed several cruises, including visits to the Holy Land, Egypt, Europe, Iceland, and the Scandinavian countries, and they hope to travel to Australia.
At this writing, Bill is undergoing medical treatment and is listed on the Adrian Dominican prayer request site. We send best wishes and loving prayers to both Theresa and Bill.
By Sharon Bock, Associate
Anyone who needs a straight-forward approach for promoting the Adrian Dominican Sisters may want to look at Associate Denise Dudley’s succinctly descriptive acronym, describing how the vowed members attracted her to Associate Life.
A - Accepting
D - Delightful
R - Refreshing
I - Inspiring
A - Awesome
N - Nurturing
Denise, of Winter Park, Florida, attends St. Margaret Mary Church, where she met Sister Rosemary Finnegan, OP. As their friendship grew, so did Denise’s interest in the Adrian Dominican Congregation. After spending a year in discernment, Denise determined that Associate Life was the path she should follow.
Surrounded by members of her Mission Group, family members, parish priests, and friends, Denise was welcomed into Associate Life in 2003. She credits her sustenance as an Associate to the supportive relationships she has with her Mission Group; other Associates, including Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life; her spiritual director; and her own prayer life.
An active member of Central Florida Mission Group, Denise participates in the quarterly gatherings and, on occasion, takes responsibility for preparing the group’s shared prayer. Her ministry – in addition to more than 20 years of employment as an auditor in the finance department for the Seminole County Clerk of the Circuit Court – is serving on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) team at St. Margaret Mary. She serves as coordinator of sponsors and sponsored a young woman who celebrated her rites of initiation on Pentecost Sunday in 2017. Denise also sang in the church choir for more than 25 years.
Denise was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her family moved in 1969 to Florida, where Denise graduated from high school and worked at Disney World in Orlando. Her career with Disney spanned 23 years and included working at Disneyland Paris in 1992.
Denise’s Dominican life is very rich with seeking truth in her everyday activities; making peace daily with family, co-workers and friends; and reverencing life through prayer, participation in liturgy and continued spiritual direction. The Enactment that most deeply resonates with Denise deals with spiritual longings. After two years of questioning and searching for her prayer life, Denise has renewed her prayerfulness with the help of a spiritual director and her sisters in mission.
She is an active supporter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates through her Mission Group, Partners (Associates) gatherings and Chapter Assemblies. Denise represents the Associates by speaking to groups at Barry University (Miami, Florida), where she shares not only her own struggles to find a prayerful life, but the richness she has received by being an active Adrian Dominican Associate. Who knows when a new Associate will become part of the Adrian Dominican family from hearing Denise’s endorsement?