Therese Fox, BVM (Rita Maurice) died Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a sharing of memories at 10:30 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.
She was born in Chicago on June 17, 1930, to Maurice and Margaret Daly Fox. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1952, from St. Dorothy Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1955, and final vows on July 16, 1960.
Sister Therese taught elementary school in Grayslake and Chicago, Ill.; Hempstead, N.Y.; Waterloo and Dubuque, Iowa; and Kansas City, Mo. Also in Chicago, she served as elementary school principal and counselor.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers: Thomas Daly, Maurice S., William P., and John Robert. She is survived by sisters-in-law Audrey Fox, Oak Lawn, Ill.; Lorraine Fox, Long Beach, Ind.; and Therese Garvey Fox, Broadview Heights, Ohio; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 64 years.
Sister Therese Fox, BVM (Rita Maurice)
Marian Hall, April 18, 2017
Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Therese Fox.
Margaret Therese Fox entered this world on June 17, 1930, as the only daughter of Maurice and Margaret Daly Fox of Chicago. She joined brothers Thomas, Maurice and William and was followed by John. Her Irish parents had a strong Catholic faith and made the family their top priority. Her father had a family heating and air conditioning business. After he died from a heart attack at age 55, her mother continued the family business and was the first woman to sign a union contract. Therese was very devoted to her family, all of whom preceded her in death. We can only image the great joy at their heavenly reunion.
Therese commented that one of the greatest challenges in her life was her health. Diagnosed with scoliosis at age 13, Therese underwent surgery and was in a body cast for some time afterwards. She missed a year of school and had to relearn how to walk. Spinal issues continued off and on throughout her life, but she never viewed them as a handicap. While in her mid-30s, she suffered a stroke that left numbness on her right side. Much later, Sister Jean Ward, BVM, whom Therese described as a “most influential” person in her life, remarked, “although Therese has suffered from back trouble for many years, this has never interfered with her activities—she has learned to live with inconvenience in a beautiful manner.”
After graduating from Holy Cross ES and Loretta Academy, Therese planned to attend Clarke University. Grief over her father’s death, combined with homesickness, cast a shadow over what should have been an exciting time. Yet Therese persevered and graduated from Clarke with a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition and a minor in science. Her interest in food was not purely professional. Therese was a very fine cook, loved to entertain, and would host gatherings where everyone had a wonderful time enjoying a delectable meal.
During an interview, Therese commented, “As a girl there were two things I never wanted to be: a teacher and a nun.” Obviously, her view changed over time. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, received the name Rita Maurice upon her reception on March 19, 1953, professed her first vows on March 19, 1955, and lived 64 years as a BVM.
After four months at St. Mary High School in Chicago, Therese spent the next 19 years teaching junior high. She was missioned at St. Gilbert in Grayslake, Ill.; Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, N.Y.; St. Charles in Chicago; Our Lady of Victory in Waterloo, Iowa; St. Patrick in Dubuque, Iowa; and St. Catherine in Kansas City, Mo. She also served as principal at Our Lady of Lourdes in Chicago, where faculty described her leadership style, observing that “she made clear what her expectations of people were, and although they were very high expectations, they were never unattainable.” They emphasized that Therese had “very special qualities for bringing out the best in people, touching people in such a way as they were changed for having known her,” and always encouraging them to live life to the fullest.
Therese worked briefly as an educational researcher for The Immaculata HS, followed by an extended period of renewal at the St. Clare House of Prayer. Afterward, she ministered as an elementary school counselor at Our Lady of Angels, St. Ita and St. Constance, and later as a counselor for the Project REACH Program at St. Mary of the Lake ES, all in Chicago. Reflecting on her gifts as a counselor, a colleague stated: “Therese always acted with integrity, backed with good common sense and deep religious values. She created an atmosphere of love and trust among students, faculty, and staff.”
Therese remained in Chicago for five years after retiring until her move to the BVM Circle Apartments in 2001 and the Motherhouse in 2010. In recent years, she enjoyed card-making classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center. During last year’s end-of-year celebration, the class traveled to Otto’s Place in Galena, Ill., but only after verifying it was wheelchair accessible so that Therese could join them. Together they enjoyed a long afternoon of conversation and food. When mobility issues made attendance too difficult, she donated her personal card-making materials for the rest of the class to enjoy.
St. Paul wrote, “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Therese was a loving person deeply committed to her work and her Lord. Despite her health issues, she remained cheerful and willingly accepted challenging assignments. She made time for reflection and prayer a priority and continued to grow deeper in her love of God and community as she carried each burden. With deep gratitude and love, we rejoice for and with Therese. She is now truly free and where she has longed to be—in the loving arms of her God.