Sister Teresa Gormally was born in County Limerick, Ireland. She describes the moment: “As we were being born, the midwife who delivered us said to my mother, ‘They will both be nuns.’” A few days later, Sister Teresa was baptized Mary Teresa, and her identical twin sister was baptized Gertrude Anne.
“I had the advantage of having siblings older and younger, so we always had enough to play our version of football and hurling. While we were growing up, the economy in Ireland was very bad, and people were struggling with poverty. We, however, were more fortunate since our father inherited twice.”
Sister Teresa attended the National Schools and had virtually no contact with the Sisters of Mercy in town. Her first contact with Presentation Sisters came through her brother, Father Michael Gormally, the assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Loretto parish in Los Angeles where Presentation Sisters taught in both the elementary and high schools. When Mother Mary Olivia Hargadon, Superior General, was doing visitations at the convent, she spoke with Father Michael regarding his brothers and sisters. On hearing Teresa was considering religious life (her twin having entered the Good Shepherd Sisters in Limerick and been given the name Sister Mary Celestine) Mother Mary Olivia invited Teresa to consider joining the Presentation Congregation. Teresa was accepted without further ado and without an interview!
After flying to New York and staying a week with her cousins, Teresa boarded the Amtrak Zephyr bound for Oakland where she was met by Mother Mary Gertrude Quillinan, Presentation Novice Mistress, and entered the Congregation the following day. In December,1951, Teresa received the white veil of a novice, and the name, Sister Mary Enda, her superiors knowing Saint Enda as the patron saint of County Galway, Ireland.
In her second year of novitiate, Sister Teresa had her first experience in an American classroom at Epiphany School, San Francisco, where she was assigned the third grade. After first profession in 1954, her next few years were spent at Saint Benedict, Montebello and Our Lady of Lourdes, East Los Angeles. She also taught in Oakland, San Jose, and Seattle, teaching all the grades from first through eighth. During this time, she also earned her BA in Education and her teaching credentials.
In 1980, Sister Teresa retired from teaching and for two years was assistant director of the Catechetical program in Montebello. During this time, the pastor of St. Benedict’s, Father Charles Massoth, OSB, invited her and Sister Agnes Curran on a trip to Europe. Among the places visited were Rome, Fatima and Lourdes. Then they flew to Shannon, Ireland, where the two Sisters joined a most enjoyable coach tour of Ireland.
1981 saw Sister Teresa begin a twelve-year stay at Saint Joseph Convent, Berkeley, seven of which were spent at Hergl Center, a non-profit residential care facility in Oakland. Hergl Center provided highly specialized educational training to developmentally disabled adults, ages 8-62, whose primary diagnosis was mental retardation with chronic brain disorder, autism, and emotional disturbance. In 1992, Saint Joseph Convent and the high school property were sold to the University of California, Berkeley, and Sister Teresa moved to Saint Anne Convent, San Francisco where she engaged in pastoral ministry in the parish and at Laguna Honda Hospital for the Aging.
When St. Anne’s Convent closed in 2004, Sister Teresa moved to the Motherhouse in San Francisco where she currently resides.