Marie Victorie Couderc would say that she lived an ordinary life. She would also tell you that she loved God very much, and wanted to do so much for Him. She became Sister Therese Couderc. Her parents were farmers. There were twelve children in the family. Marie was always helping others.After her First Communion, she wanted to love God even more. She wanted to enter the convent, but her father refused to let her go.
Instead she was sent to boarding school. One day her father came to take her home to attend a Mission. It was there that she met a priest who was to become very important in her life, he was Father Terme. He had just started a group of Sisters whose work was teaching religion to children. Soon, Marie Victorie was allowed to join them. Her new name was Sister Therese.
But something was worrying Father Terme. At La Louvesc was the tomb of St. Francis Regis. Many people visited it to pray. But there was no quiet, prayerful place for visitors to stay. So Father Terme had a house built for women, where they could find quietness and comfort. The young Sister Therese was put in charge of St. Regis House and so began the Cenacle which we know today.
Mother Therese, as mother superior of that first Cenacle, had suffered a lot. Her good friend, Father Terme, died. People began to say unkind things about the way she ran the house. Mother Therese knew that God was the only one that mattered, so she passed the work of superior to another sister.
Everything she did was just for God. Then she became deaf and she could hardly walk. All these sufferings she gave gladly to God.
The Cenacle which Mother Therese and Father Terme founded has spread to many lands. The Cenacle Sisters came to New Zealand from the United States of America in 1953, and established retreat houses in Auckland and Lower Hutt.
To the Cenacle today, people come, to make a retreat. There they gather together with the Cenacle Sisters, who, like St. Therese Couderc, want to help people to come close to God.
Traditionally, the Cenacle was the place of the Last Supper, to which the Apostles returned with Mary, to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, and from which the Apostles went forth to proclaim the Gospel after the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Today’s Cenacles continue in this tradition as centres of spiritual renewal.