In December 2016, after many years of hard work and dedication to Newman University and its mission, Sister Therese Wetta, ASC retired from the university.
Wetta, who worked in many capacities at Newman and for the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and Catholic Charities USA, leaves a legacy of service behind her.
Wetta entered the ASC in 1961, and professed her first vows in 1963. She received a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Sacred Heart College in 1964. After completing a master’s degree in biology from Kansas State University in 1972, she joined the faculty of Sacred Heart College — which soon became Kansas Newman College — where she also served as the academic dean from 1973 to 1981. Between 1983 and 1988, Wetta earned a doctorate in instructional leadership at Boston College. During this time she also served as the vice president of Academic Affairs at St. Mary of the Plains in Dodge City, Kan.
Between 1990 and 2012, Wetta served in several positions for the ASC, including provincial coordinator, U.S. representative at the ASC General Assembly in Rome, and councilor on the International Leadership Team, where she lived six years in Rome and visited sisters around the globe. She also worked with Catholic Charities USA in development and leadership training positions, and lived with the ASC communities in Tanzania for a year teaching English, leadership development, spiritual development and other topics. For her service to the Adorers and to Newman University, she received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degree in 2008.
In 2013, Wetta celebrated the 50th anniversary of her first vows as an Adorer. That same year she returned to Newman. Wetta was named director of development for sciences and health sciences, where she worked with and visited Newman alumni with science and health science degrees across the country to help raise funds for the Facing Forward campaign to renovate health sciences facilities in Eck Hall and build the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
“At that point, that was a good alternative for me,” Wetta said. “And because this was about Newman and I had taught biology, it was a good fit and the position enabled me to establish relationships with not only science alumni but all alumni.”
Wetta added that she was greatly assisted in her work by many alumni, who volunteered to serve on committees to help her develop ideas and plan events.
Wetta spent much of her time traveling, and stepped in to implement the 2016 Alumni Reunion in the absence of a director of Alumni Relations. After that, she stepped in to help organize the 2016 Party on the Plaza. Recognizing that both her body and spirit were tired and the campaign was successfully coming to a close, Wetta noted, “I turned 75 and I felt like it was time.”
After leaving Newman, Wetta focused on relaxing and spending time in spiritual renewal with God. She is now thinking about a leadership role in a new mission the ASC is considering in Liberia, where five ASC sisters were brutally murdered in 1992 during a civil war. The sisters are now revered by the ASC as the five Martyrs of Charity.
“This year is the 25th anniversary of the five Martyrs, and returning this year would be more meaningful,” she said. “Their blood is still there. I feel there should be an ASC mission to preserve a living ASC presence there. The hope is that it will be a community with ASCs from other countries.”
Whether or not the Liberia mission comes to fruition, Wetta said she has enjoyed her time at Newman, which will always be a special place in her life.
“The fact that Newman has survived many crises in its history is a real testimony to its mission and the Providence of God and the sisters,” she said. “So, serving here has always been a joy and a gift because the mission is so important and the education our students receive truly makes a difference, not only in their lives, but in the lives of the people they serve.”