May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Therese McFarland, RSM

Sr. Therese McFarland, RSM, died peacefully at Mercy Bellbrook in Rochester Hills on Oct. 26, 2020, accompanied by loving staff. 

Her 97 years of life began in Bay City on October 6, 1923, where she was welcomed by her parents, Edgar and Delina (Gentle) McFarland. She and her siblings attended local Catholic schools, which were staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. When Therese graduated from St. Mary High School in 1943, she became a bookkeeper at a local insurance company for several years. She often stopped on her way home to visit Sister Mary Victorine and Sister Mary Bonaventure, two of her favorite teachers. This led to her considering life as a Sister of Mercy.

A memorial service will be held for residents only on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Chapel, McAuley Life Center.
Sr. Therese McFarland, RSM

On Sept. 7, 1945, Therese came to Detroit to become a Sister of Mercy. She received the name Sister Mary Henrietta and prepared for a life of ministry as an educator. She later commented, “My reason for becoming a Sister of Mercy was to dedicate my life to God, and I never thought about what work I would do. However, I enjoyed my teaching ministry and worked at various schools throughout Michigan.” She made her perpetual vows on Aug. 16, 1951.

She taught children in Cadillac, Hazel Park, Bay City, Manistee, Reese, Rogers City, Berkley, Posen, Saginaw and Belding for almost 50 years. Along the way, she earned degrees from Mercy College of Detroit, Cardinal Stritch College, and DePere College. She also attended numerous conferences and workshops to maintain and improve her skills.

Therese held an active interest and involvement in community changes, especially those that came following Vatican II. She gladly returned to her baptismal name and welcomed the adoption of a simple form of dress. She retired from teaching on July 1, 1995, and enjoyed the next 16 years in her beloved Bay City. There she visited the homebound members of the parish and served as a Eucharistic minister at Bay Medical Nursing Home. Sister Jane Fox recalled how Therese often referred to her love of Bay City and the long walks she took along the river.

Therese moved to McAuley Life Center in 2011, where she enjoyed living within the retirement community, especially with her sister Mary, who had also become a Sister of Mercy in 1949. They shared life together for several years and were avid walkers. They especially enjoyed walking the McAuley Center grounds until Mary became ill and had to receive care at Mercy Bellbrook before her death in 2016.  

“Therese was kind, generous, and had a wonderful sense of humor—and a love of chocolate,” Sister Maureen Mulcrone remembered. “Even when her walking became a little shaky, she was quick to offer to get a cup of coffee or cocoa for each person who arrived at the dinner table.” 

When Therese’s health failed, she transferred to Mercy Bellbrook in 2018 for special care. 

She is the last of 13 McFarland siblings. She leaves behind many beloved nieces, nephews, her Mercy Sisters, and companions.

Arrangements are as follows: Thursday, Oct. 29, 11 a.m. memorial service at Sacred Heart Chapel, McAuley Life Center (residents only). 12 p.m. burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield.

The public is welcome. Masks must be worn, and social distancing observed.