Diocese of Lake Charles
Becoming part of a Theresian community is just what several local women needed to help them along their spiritual journey.
Martha Deshotel said it was an answer to prayer. Eileen Eskew describes it as an oasis in her life. Sylvia Marcantel likes having friends all over the world praying for one another.
All three women belong to small faith communities of Theresians International, a Catholic-based women’s organization with 2,000 members in nine countries. The communities vary in size from 15-25 members and are open to women of all Christian faiths — single, married, and vowed religious — with a desire to grow spiritually.
Founded on the feast of St. Thèrése of Lisieux on October 1, 1961, by Monsignor Elwood C. Voss in Pueblo, Colo., a unique feature of the Theresian communities is the combination of the Five Dimensions: Spirituality, Education, Community, Vocation, and Ministry. Thèrése’s Little Way in its simplicity is the model for women of all walks of life.
Deshotel and Marcantel, who belong to one of the first communities chartered in Lake Charles nearly 20 years ago — S.I.S.T.E.R.S. (Sisters Inspired to Seek Theresian Experiences Revealed by the Spirit) — said they both have grown in their faith as a Theresian.
“The programs, the prayer services, the retreats, and the Bible study provide opportunities for me to be more involved in ministry,” said Marcantel, a recent past Theresians board member. “It’s like Christ becomes more evident as I interact with good Christian women. I think most people find the meetings are just like a mini-retreat once a month and look forward to it.”
“Being part of Theresians spills over into my spirituality,” said Deshotel. “It has helped me grow closer to God, and to step out in leadership roles that I don’t think I would have ever done.” Deshotel has served on the National Leadership Team Board.
Eskew, a member of Petals of Faith Community in Jennings and currently serving on the USA National Leadership Team, said she was surprised by the number of like-minded women as herself when she became involved with Theresians.
“We all believe strongly in the Catholic faith and want to learn more and grow in our faith,” Eskew said. “The women in our community are prayerful, and we enjoy serving others.”
A few months into 2020, Theresian communities were forced to find other ways to gather monthly because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We have been meeting on Zoom, we have met in the park when the weather was nice so we can socially distance, and we chat every day through text messaging,” said Marcantel. “We have become a real prayer group to pray for each other’s needs and the needs of people close to them.”
To belong to Theresians International, a woman commits herself to: attending and participating in monthly Theresian community meetings; spending regular times in prayer each day; studying and deepening her understanding of the call to live by Gospel values; dedicating herself to ongoing educational and spiritual opportunities; encouraging and supporting the efforts of members to reach their full potential as Theresian women whose vision is both global and local; and responding to the call to serve.
Presently, there are Theresian communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, Argentina, and Thailand.
“I really like the international component of Theresians,” said Eskew. “We have friends from all over the world who pray for each other. You begin to know people nationally and internationally.”
Closer to home, Eskew said several Theresians from other areas contacted the national office asking what they could do to help those impacted by Hurricane Laura.
“The national office in Springfield, Ill., made arrangements if anyone wanted to make donations to Theresians in Southwest Louisiana affected by Hurricane Laura.” said Eskew. “In one month, $11,000 was collected and wired to the district leadership team. It was very inspirational to so many who had damage.”
Theresians believe that when Christian women bond together for the support and growth of one another, they have tremendous influence for good at home, in church, and in society.
Deshotel said it is beautiful what can be done by the power of women connected spiritually. “Theresians are like a bale of hay that keeps getting bigger as far as growth of spirituality. I know what an impact Theresians has had on my life, and every chance I get I want to share it with others.”
During the holidays when members of S.I.S.T.E.R.S could not gather socially, they still reached out to one another and to those in the community.
“Irene McGee dropped off a little Advent booklet to members, and Cookie Phillips put her artistic skills to use and made Christmas cards for everybody,” said Marcantel. “We all collected items for the homeless. Theresians are small groups, but they are attached to something larger. We can really feel like we are making a difference in the world and for each other.”
Other communities in the Lake Charles area include: Journey Women; Sisters of Burning Faith; Sisters of Serenity; Spirits of Light; Women of Spirit; Sisters of Love, Peace, and Joy; and Petite Fleur du Lac.
For more information on joining a Theresian community or forming a new community, call (888) 545-7230 or visit www.Theresians.org.
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