ST. BONIFACE — When Theresa Sinkwich bought a new, red Honda in the spring of 2014, she had people’s attention. Nothing unusual about that, you might say, but Sinkwich was 94 at the time.
Sinkwich’s parish community of St. Alphonsus Church — since the late 1970s — love and admire this woman of faith, strength and courage. These qualities, along with her sense of purpose and humour, have carried her well through her life journey.
Sinkwich recently celebrated her 95th birthday with cards, cake, flowers and wishes for continued good health and blessings in the coming year. We had to wonder at the ingredients that have made her an inspiration for so many women.
Theresa (Rougeau) Sinkwich said that she grew up in Norwood, St. Boniface in Manitoba, as the oldest child in a family of eight. Her faith grew through the example of her mother, who prayed with deep humility and devotion. Her father’s untimely death in his 40s was difficult and deeply felt.
At 21 years, Sinkwich joined the Women’s Army Corp, rising to the rank of sergeant. For five years she was able to serve in the military yet live at home and help support her family. Her favourite memory is that she enlisted Ed, her husband to be.
After attending business and secretarial school she joined the Catholic Women’s League and later moved to Montreal where she served as sacristan at her church. Illness forced her return to Winnipeg where she nursed Ed until his death in 1980.
Sinkwich’s grief was overwhelming. It took months for her to regain her feelings and place in the world. Through prayer and writing, she began to recover and recognized many “God moments” in her life. She was gifted with grace and healing while gazing at a crucifix on her bedroom wall. Each night a luminous cross appeared and slowly circled the crucifix. Sinkwich called this her “comfort cross” which continued to appear each evening for 25 years. One day while at a meeting, the cross, enlarged, appeared to her for the last time. Sinkwich also cared for her mother in Notre Dame de Lourdes, Man. until her death.
As a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, she put her secretarial skills to good use at the Franciscan Friary. In time she also became involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement. Sinkwich then asked the Lord, “What is my purpose in life?” Since that moment of grace she has answered “yes” to all of God’s invitations.
Sinkwich has served as a director of formation at St. Alphonsus, taught adult and children’s catechetics, and has been the sacristan for many years. She is a lector at daily mass, helps to count collections and prepares monthly schedules for lectors and eucharistic ministers.
Sinkwich is a faithful member of the CWL. She received a certificate of merit in 1993 and her 50-year pin in 2011.
Sinkwich lives each day with gratitude and says, “Thank the Lord for every circumstance in life as there is a reason for everything and count your blessings!” Her infectious and hearty laugh, her positive attitude inspire all to do more. She is a gift to us all.