Sister Teresita Huse, OP, spoke to Southwest Kansas Catholic Editor Dave Myers about her of her childhood in Kansas, and how her Dominican education brought her to religious life.
“I was the only girl,” she said. “I had three brothers. I was the second child.
“The big thing in my life was the commitment of my parents to a Catholic upbringing,” she added. “I was born in Kingman; there was no Catholic school. They wanted us to have a Catholic education, so for nine years, early every morning, they would put us in the car and drive 20 miles to Willowdale where Grandma lived. We would attend St. Peter’s School where the Dominicans taught.”
Sister Teresita’s aunt was a Dominican Sister, as was a cousin, so the Sisters were well known to the siblings. “At four in the afternoon on Friday, I would come out of school and Dad’s car was there. In six years, only twice was he not able to pick us up because of the weather.”
In 1931, St. Patrick School opened in Kingman — about the time that Sister Teresita’s family moved to Wichita.
“When my brother was in high school and I was in the seventh grade, our little brother died at age 5. He was sick for only three days. He had spinal meningitis. Our uncle came to pick us up and said that Cletus was really sick. We were quarantined for two weeks, so we couldn’t even go to the funeral.
“There was no closure,” she said, a hint of sadness in her voice all these years later.
Her new school was run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, one of whom Sister Teresita approached one day and announced, “I’m going to be a Dominican Sister! That year, they had a skit and there was a Sister in it. Guess who got to be the Sister?”
On the day of the presentation, the future Sister – not even yet a teenager – dressed in habit, and was even mistaken for a Sister by a Christian Brother.
“I was a St. Joseph Sister for one day,” she said with a smile.
A few years later, the habit she wore would be real, and her title not the name of a character in a play. At 15, she became “Sister Teresita.”
Sister Teresita ministered as an educator in Kansas and Oklahoma, as a librarian, and in parish ministry. She also taught an adult English class in Kyoto, Japan, during her sabbatical year. She caught the travel bug in 1969 when she visited New Zealand, Australia and Alaska. She has also visited the Holy Land, Korea and India.
She has held various leadership positions in her religious community and served as their first development director. She has always had a great love for the Nigerian missions and has given countless hours to projects which benefit them.
After teaching 57 years, Sister retired to the Motherhouse in Great Bend in 1996 and presently resides in the Convent Infirmary. Although “retired,” every year she devotes countless hours giving mission appeals in parishes, coordinating the annual mission bazaar raffle, and challenging groups and individuals to sponsor water wells and build education centers.
“God’s great goodness to me as a Dominican for 75 years boggles my mind, and God willing, there will be more. I’m very, very happy with my many years in the convent,” Sister Teresita said. “I’ve been truly blessed.”