In Memoriam

Sister Therese DeCanio, OP (Thomas Frances)


On April 10, 1930, a young Chicago couple, Anthony and Frances (Liana) DeCanio, welcomed their first-born child, Therese Genevieve, into the world.

At the time, the little family lived on the second floor of an apartment building owned by three unmarried Irish sisters. These early days of the Depression were difficult, for Anthony – whose occupation is listed as “printer” in later Congregational records – was unemployed at the time of Therese’s birth. But the family’s landladies told him to not worry about the rent until he got a job. “My mother and father often spoke of their kindness,” Sister Therese wrote in her autobiography. “… They were a great gift in my young life as they spent much time reading to me, making pancakes for my breakfast and simply loving me.”

In the years following Therese’s birth, two more children were born, Joseph in 1933 and Loretta in 1938. Therese’s early school years were spent in public school, including Fort Dearborn School when the family moved into a home in St. Kilian Parish the summer before she entered fifth grade. 

That move proved pivotal, for she attended CCD classes at St. Kilian. It was her introduction to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and she went on to attend St. Kilian School for sixth grade and then Aquinas Dominican High School. Her parents preferred that she attend high school closer to home, but to her the 45-minute trip to Aquinas was well worth it because she was drawn to the Sisters’ joyful and caring presence.

Read more about Sister Therese (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.



Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).

your Comment will be showing after administrator's approval

b i u quote

Save Comment
Showing 10 Comments
Avatar  Alice Carlson 3 years agoReply

Rest In Peace Sr. Thomas Francis. You were such an inspiration for me and I will always be grateful for the stern but motivational messages you gave me at Montini (which is a nice way of saying you gave me several do better talks). I enjoyed your classes and felt the powerful impact you gave us on the history of WWII and the dangers of communism. You made a difference in my life and I will be forever grateful.

Avatar  Craig 3 years agoReply

A sacrificial life lived to serve so many others. Thank you for honoring this generous woman who gave so much to bless others. Particularly appreciated the personal interview of Sister Therese sharing her call to serve and how different and challenging the times were when she accepted her life of service. I only knew her family but through them all, realize how much she was a gift from the Lord.

Avatar  Jack Reidy 3 years agoReply

I had Sr. Therese for AP Econ senior year at Ignatius. She and I had substantially different economic philosophies. Our first semester final was an assignment to write an essay on a paper by a strongly capitalist author. I chose to write my essay explaining, point by point, why I thought his approach was immoral. When returning papers, Sr. Therese said to the class "I want to be clear that your grades are not based on whether or not I agree with you. For example, Jack, you did quite well. I respect your opinions. I don't agree with any of them, but I respect them." Sure enough, I had gotten a very good grade and a paper covered in comments. I think that summarizes my interactions with her well. She had strongly held beliefs, but at the end of the day what she cared about most was teaching people to learn and to think for themselves.

Avatar  Aggie DiGiovanni Cipolla 3 years agoReply

Sister was an inspiration, a great teacher, and a good friend. Even after graduation from Muldoon High, Class of 1969, in later years we would talk on the phone and our conversations were not only fun but filled with her wisdom and compassion. On my first day at Muldoon I remember being so afraid of her but soon came to love her. May God hold her in the palm of His hand and grant her eternal peace.

Avatar  Meg Kay-Stacey 3 years agoReply

Sr. Therese taught me US History and AP Macro while I was at St. Ignatius (Class of 1999). She was tough, but she was an amazing teacher. I will always remember her fondly, especially her "academic high fives." I enjoyed watching the YouTube interview with her; it brought back memories of her laugh, which had not changed a bit. May she rest in peace.

Avatar  David French 3 years agoReply

Sister Therese was an authentic person who prepared me for life. She was one of my toughest and rewarding teachers during my 19 years of schooling. Her prayers and personal stories shared during economics class planted seeds that led me to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

Avatar  Siobhain Treacy 3 years agoReply

Blessed to have known Sr. Therese. She was an amazing educator. She was motivating and she made me want to try harder. She knew how to connect with people.
May you rest in peace.

Avatar  Paris Schutz 3 years agoReply

Sister Therese DeCanio taught my senior year Macroeconomics course at St. Ignatius. She was the best and most impactful teacher I've ever had. She was invested in each and every one of her students. But her students had to come prepared: she was tough, rigorous, and could call on you at any moment in class. At the beginning of the year, I answered a lot of questions wrong and received subpar test scores. One day, I got an exam back with a big, bright "A" on it. I looked up at Sister Therese at the front of the class and she looked back at me, beaming. "It's about time," she said. She gave that type of special attention to everyone. She knew instinctively that I had underperformed to that point, that I had worked hard, and that it had finally paid off. A subject that had been challenging and opaque all of a sudden made perfect sense to me. I received an A in her class and aced the AP exam. You could tell that teaching was a calling for her, and that it came from a very deep and spiritual place. She was on a mission to push every student to achieve their best, to prepare them for college and life. If she had that kind of impact on me, think of the collective impact on the thousands and thousands of students she taught throughout her marvelous career. The world is much better for her having been in it. I wish to express my deepest sympathies to her family for their loss.

Avatar  John Troy 3 years agoReply

I am sorry to hear the sad news. Sr. Therese was my economics teacher at St. Ignatius and inspired me to pursue a career in business. I will be forever grateful to her. She will be missed.

John Troy

Avatar  Margarita Levasseur 3 years agoReply

Sister Therese was my US History Teacher . She was a lot of fun because while she lectured , she would cold call on students and you better be ready to answer when she asked or you got a consequence to remember . My favorite memory is when she threw water out of her cup at a kid who sat nearby me because he didn’t do his homework. I also remember her saying she would do a headstand the day that the class all scored 100% on the tests . Most important were some of the lessons she did engrain in us such as “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” She was humble . She was tough . She was one to remember ! Rest In Peace , Sister Therese !

Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 

Helpful Links

Event Recordings (Video Library)

Dominican School Alumnae/Alumni

Become an Adrian Dominican Associate

What do you have to do to become a Sister?

Share our blog, A Sister Reflects

Sign up for the monthly Veritas newsletter (or view our other publications)

Employment opportunities


We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.


Recent Posts

Read More »