Teresa Ann Leahy’s love of the poor goes back to the kitchen table conversations she heard as a child. Her parents admired Dorothy Day’s work and talked frequently about religion and the social justice issues of the day. As she grew older, they encouraged her to read Thomas Merton’s first books and the newly collected letters of Therese of Lisieux. It was through her parents, that she began to find her spirituality in Therese’s contemplative spirituality. And, always, the concern for the poor stayed with her.
As a high school student, Teresa loved singing in the school choir and going with the group to entertain in convalescent hospitals and for various organizations. "When we went to sing at the novitiate in Saratoga I experienced something new," she said. "God told me I belonged there." She entered the novitiate after graduating from Notre Dame High School in San Jose and, in what felt like no time at all, found herself teaching sixth grade at Notre Dame Elementary in San Francisco.
Sister Teresa Ann taught in Notre Dame elementary schools in California and Oregon for nearly 50 years, but her most treasured years were those as principal. She had never forgotten how hard she and her parents had to work so she could stay in Catholic school. As principal, she could help students from low-income families get a good Catholic education.
Sister also appreciated the opportunities she had to work with parents, pastors, superintendents, and, most especially, good teachers. "Together as a family," she says, we created warm, caring places for children."
Sister’s ministry for the past 30 years has been at Moreland Notre Dame School in Watsonville. She served as principal for over 20 years, then "retired" to teach part time, and now volunteers in countless, greatly appreciated ways. Most of all, she continues to help make Moreland the caring and family-friendly school that children, parents and teachers love.