Thérèse Craine Bertsch
“Most of my life is spent trying to understand how to overcome my own limitations, and live the prayer of St. Francis, as a Third Order Franciscan.”
As a little girl I knew we are supposed to be healers.
Most of my life is spent trying to understand how to overcome my own limitations, and live the prayer of St. Francis, as a Third Order Franciscan. Questioning how we should understand power in relationships has shaped my life. I have always been involved in my parish. I am an EM and lector, and for over 30 years participated in the RCIA. I have many wonderful friends, among them brothers from the Community of Taize.
As a single mother of five young children I recall responding to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, at a Pax Christi retreat, that I will believe in my progress as a peacemaker when I can maintain my peace at home. My children are now adults. I have 8 grandchildren, the eldest, Hillary is 26 years old and soon to be married.
As a social worker I was a pioneer building and training staff in programs for persons with HIV/AIDS. I was honored to receive the LUMINA Award from the National Catholic AIDS Conference for my work with Addictions and AIDS models. I went on to direct a housing shelter and worked in a Hospice program. After completing a Master’s Degree in Science in Social Work at Columbia, I completed a doctoral degree at Adelphi University with 11 single homeless mothers. The narratives of poor women, who are isolated and marginalized in suburban life, revealed their desire for work, and dedication to their families. After teaching at university for over 12 years I now have a private practice.
I attribute my progress in school, and my professional work, to my parents and ancestors. They served their families and the poor, and the parish community nourished and inspired them as it did me. I want the same for everyone!