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Sister Teresa Frawley: An Indispensable Member of the Wind River Community

November 05, 2020

St. Stephen's Indian Mission

Eighty-five-year-old Patricia Garvin is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. She has known Sister Teresa most of her life and thinks of her as an important member of her family. “She was a blessing to my sisters and me,” she says of Sister Teresa.

Longevity runs in Patricia’s family, and Sister Teresa made a practice of visiting both of Patricia’s elderly sisters before they passed away in 2019. Besides bringing communion to June, who at the age of 95, lived at home, until she became too frail and moved into a care center, Sister Teresa shoveled snow, changed light bulbs, and ran errands—whatever June needed. Patricia’s other sister, 94-year-old Teresa also benefitted from Sister Teresa’s personal care and attention.

Both of Patricia’s sisters passed away in 2019 just months apart, and Sister Teresa was an important source of emotional support for Patricia, who says that Sister Teresa is a beloved member of the Wind River community.
“Sister Teresa calls just to check on me,” says Patricia. “She is really so important to my family and so many others.”
Caroline Mills also is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. She basically describes Sister Teresa as the backbone of the Catholic community.

“She takes care of the lawn around the church by moving the sprinkler around in the summer,” says Caroline. “She shovels the sidewalk during the winter months and keeps a small heater going to prevent the pipes from freezing. She helps prepare the church for Mass and is the last one to leave to lock it up.”

Before Covid-19, Sister Teresa visited people in the hospital and rehabilitation centers, but those visits, as well as personal visits like those she made to Patricia’s family, ended when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Wyoming. The Wind River Indian Reservation was among the hardest hit, with many people experiencing life-threatening illness, and the community had the highest number of deaths in Wyoming to date.

In these difficult times, Sister Teresa found other ways to serve the people she loves so much. She made sure that every person who wanted it received Holy Water; she made phone calls; and she continued to assist with funerals as she was able.

“She allowed the drum group to sing some songs in the church for a funeral and the sound quality was
beautiful,” says Caroline.

“Over the years, we have had many priests come and go,” says Caroline. “Sister Teresa has been here to see babies get baptized, grow up, and become good Catholic citizens. She knows people by their name and knows where many people live. She also knows how to get around the reservation since there are not many road signs.”

In good and bad times, Sister Teresa supports the people of the Wind River Indian Reservation in every possible way.