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New Catholic Studies Scholarship Honors Late Alumna M. Theresa Martinez

Longtime educator dedicated her life to others

M. Theresa Martinez with her students

Every community needs a champion for education, a supporter of the arts and a humanitarian. For decades, Sacred Heart University alumna M. Theresa Martinez fulfilled that role.


During her time at SHU

Martinez, a former Fairfield resident who passed away in 2010, dedicated her life to helping others. Whether she was providing the necessary funds to protect a friend from foreclosure, or giving children winter clothing, school supplies and mentoring, she always helped those in need.

To honor Martinez’s faith and her dedication to community service, SHU has created the M. Theresa Martinez Catholic Studies Scholarship. The annual scholarship will provide $1,000 to five students minoring in Catholic studies. It will be funded in two increments to ensure completion of the minor.

Martinez “was an exceptional person,” said Michelle Loris, professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who was a friend of Martinez. “This honors her legacy; it’s a supreme honor for her. It’s something she would want—she would want to support young people’s college education.”

Martinez received her bachelor’s degree in English and later her sixth-year certificate in educational administration from SHU. She taught for many years before becoming a principal. She retired in 1999 as principal of Pumpkin Delight School in Milford after 30 years in education.

Martinez died after a long battle with lupus, kidney failure and cancer.

During her lifetime, she expanded her knowledge of the arts and humanities and she helped the less fortunate. She was an avid reader of theology, philosophy and literature; she studied cello, singing and film, and she enjoyed traveling and reading. Those who knew her say she was always compassionate, and she put children first, providing them with necessities. She was deeply religious and believed God wanted her to live life with love and to love life. With such an appreciation for education and a deep commitment to her faith, a Catholic studies scholarship in her name made sense.

Minoring in Catholic Studies provides students an interdisciplinary understanding of the breadth and richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, said Loris. Itfurnishes them with broad-based knowledge and imparts critical thinking and analysis skills necessary for 21st-century careers, she added.

June-Ann Greeley, associate professor of theology and religious studies, said, “The benefits of minoring in Catholic Studies are very similar to those of any interdisciplinary minor or major that allows the student to explore a specific perspective or set of organizing principles in different, but interrelated disciplines and modalities.

“The benefits of minoring in Catholic Studies will vary according to the student,” Greeley continued. “One student might be a practicing Catholic who would like to develop a deeper and broader understanding of her faith and its various modes of expression. Another student may have no real religious background, but is interested in exploring the influence of religion in human cultures and different forms of expression. Another student might be a major in history or literature or modern foreign languages, but would like to embellish that major with a minor in Catholic studies. Finally, the major in a professional or pre-professional program might find the interdisciplinary minor an enriching course of study that addresses aspects of the major, which might otherwise not be discussed.”

Martinez’s family and friends made the scholarship fund possible. Students interested in minoring in Catholic Studies can apply by contacting Professor Loris at 203-396-8020 or Click here for additional information.