‘If someone needs help, she helps’
By ROSE YBARRAThe Valley Catholic
RIO GRANDE CITY — Wherever help is needed, Sister Dianne Maresh of the Benedictine Sisters of Crookston, Minn., will be there, according to her fellow religious sisters, friends and colleagues.
“If someone needs help, she helps,” said Sister Rosalia Fink of the Benedictine Sisters of Crookston, Minn., who has known Sister Maresh since she entered their community about 60 years ago. “Whatever needs to get done, she gets it done.”
Sister Maresh said she has, “done every job there is to do in a school,” teaching numerous subjects at all age levels and has even written grants.
After serving as a Catholic school educator for 20 years in Minnesota, she moved to Harlingen in 1978 and has called the Rio Grande Valley home since then. Her first stop was Austin Elementary School, where she was a teacher for 13 years. Later, she began a 14-year stint at the now-defunct Community Action Council of South Texas in Rio Grande City where she led the family literacy program. The program offered English-as-a-Second Language courses and prepared students for the GED test. She also supervised and developed numerous children’s programs.
Today, Sister Maresh, 78, who lives in Rio Grande City, provides training for teachers and other employees of Head Start programs, which provide early childhood education – and these are just her day jobs. She has always taught religious education in the evenings and on weekends everywhere she has lived, Sister Fink said.
“Sister Dianne has helped a lot in the community and at Church,” Sister Fink said. “She has been especially active in the diaconate formation program with the Diocese of Brownsville and teaching religious education to adults.
“She loves teaching and she enjoys teaching students of any age.”
Sister Fink, who runs a shelter in Rio Grande City for women and children who have experienced domestic violence or abuse, invited Sister Maresh to the Valley, “years and years ago.”
The sisters worked together at Community Action Council, which was a nonprofit community service agency that served Starr County and other rural communities.
“More than anything, I have always just wanted to follow God’s will for my life,” said Sister Maresh of her various job and ministry posts. “The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants.”
Sister Maresh developed a deep prayer life at a young age. As an eighth-grader, she was rounding up her family and encouraging them to pray the rosary together.
The oldest of three children, Sister Maresh was born on Jan. 23, 1939 in Grafton, N.D. and later moved to the small town of Pisek, N.D. where she attended school for several years. As a teenager, she attended Mount St. Benedict Academy, a boarding school in Crookston, Minn.
“The Sisters used to talk about giving their lives to God and I used to think, ‘Oh, I want to do that,’” she said. “I always wanted to be a missionary and I have come to realize you don’t have to leave the country to find your mission field.
“I am grateful to the Lord for all his blessings. So far, it’s been great. I like people and I like teaching. I learn from them and I hope they learn from me.”
Sister Maresh has spent the vast majority of her 60 years in religious life serving the people of the Valley. She has ministered in many different cities and different parishes throughout the diocese, but has always felt the Church in the Valley is “very united.”
“When you do ministry with the diocese, we are reminded that we are one body, that what happens in Brownsville for example should matter to us in Rio Grande City,” she said. “I think the Church, the diocese was the first organization in the Valley to promote unity and regional projects.
“Together, we are stronger and can get more accomplished.”
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