Remembering Sister Teresa Ann Leahy (1930-2023)

Sister Teresa Ann Leahy, SNDdeN traced her love of the poor back to the kitchen table conversations she heard as a child. Her parents admired Dorothy Day’s work and talked frequently about religion and social justice issues. As she grew older, they encouraged her to read Thomas Merton’s first books and the newly collected letters of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Through her parents, she began to find her spirituality in Therese’s contemplative spirituality. Her concern for the poor persisted throughout her life.

As a high school student, Sister Teresa Ann 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, California, I experienced something new," she said. "God told me I belonged there." She entered the novitiate soon 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 in which she served as a principal. She never forgot 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 Teresa Ann also appreciated the opportunities she had to work with parents, pastors, superintendents, and, most especially, good teachers. "Together as a family," she said, "we created warm, caring places for children." She was most grateful to God for each and every one she was privileged to be with throughout her years in ministry.

For over 40 years she served at Moreland Notre Dame School in Watsonville, California, as principal for over 20 years, then teaching part-time. She spent her retirement volunteering in countless, greatly appreciated ways. Most of all, she continued to help make Moreland the caring and family-friendly school that children, parents, and teachers love.

Sister Teresa Ann served as a volunteer in parish ministry at St. Patrick’s Church and participated in prayer groups. She also enjoyed singing, being with her family, enjoying God’s beauty, and spending time with her dachshund, Ruby. (Sister Teresa loved dogs, and has had many pets over the years!)

Within her family, Sister Teresa Ann was considered a fun-loving matriarch, and a source of wise counsel and support. According to her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Leahy, Sister Teresa Ann loved her nieces, nephews, and their children as if they were her own and was very much loved in return. Described as “a real outdoors-woman and trooper,” Sister Teresa Ann enjoyed joining her family on camping trips.

Sister Teresa Ann Leahy, teachers, and students gathered donations for the Notre Dame orphanage in Zimbabwe.

One of Sister Teresa Ann’s favorite quotes was by Father Ralph Simon: “To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances. To seek Him is the greatest of all adventures. To find Him is the greatest of all achievements.” Sister Teresa Ann loved to experience God’s loving presence through Mass, prayer, her friends, and family.

Sister Teresa Ann Leahy went home to her good God on December 30, 2023, at the age of 93 and after 74 years as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.



Notre Dame Elementary, San Francisco, Calif.
St. Columbkille School, Los Angeles, Calif.
Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Belmont, Calif.
St. Stephen School, Portland, Oreg.
Holy Angels Elementary, Yuba City, Calif.
St. Joseph Elementary, San Jose, Calif.
St. Philip Neri Elementary, Alameda, Calif. (Principal, Superior)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Redwood City, Calif. (Principal, Superior)
Moreland Notre Dame School, Watsonville, Calif. (Principal, Superior)

70-year Jubilarian Siter Teresa Ann Leahy, SNDdeN (in front wearing red) with friends and family.