Sister Liz (Elisabeth Marie) Tiernan

Sister Elisabeth Tiernan grew up in a lively Irish Catholic family of seven children, whose dinner conversations often took the form of debate on political questions of the day, with her father acting as referee. Thus began a lifelong interest for Liz in politics as essential to the moral life of Christians.

Growing up a few blocks from St. Clare's elementary school in Santa Clara, California, Liz was a reluctant student in the beginning. As her eldest sister Barbara writes, "At the age of six, Liz refused to budge from home to walk the few short blocks to St. Clare's on the first day of school. But after Mom's adamant refusal to give in, Celeste, her younger sister (not yet ready for school herself) took her hand and propelled the reluctant Liz to the first grade.”

It was there, at St. Clare's School and later at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, that Liz began a deep respect and love for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. So it was with great delight and with the encouragement of her parents and siblings that in 1961 she began her wonderful journey with the sisters she had liked and admired so much, from elementary through high school.

In spite of her "rocky start" with education, Liz has loved teaching. In 1985, she combined this love with a desire to encourage faculties in their quest to pass on the Good News of Jesus by creating a program for Catholic schools called "Celebrate the Presence of God". For two weeks at a time, Liz would go into elementary schools and teach every class, K-8, for five days, thus providing in-service in their own classrooms for teachers, helping them to see that religion lessons can be creative and inspiring.

Through the years, Liz has taught all age groups, was an elementary school principal and a high school Dean of Students and continues to present the Goodness of God at retreats and reflection days for students and adults in the state of Washington.

An added privilege and love has been her opportunity to walk with Catholic Native American communities in Seattle and to be a presenter of catechesis at the National Tekakwitha Conference held yearly across the United States. She has also written two workbooks for Native Catholics to help them teach the truths of Catholicism through their own cultural symbols. These books are called: "Keepers of the Fire": Catholic and Native Teachings and Spirituality, Passing on the Traditions, and were published by the Archdiocese of Seattle.

And now, more than sixty years later, she is most grateful for the opportunity, through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, to deepen her friendship with her loving God and become more and more conscious of responding to the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church, especially in the areas of racism and climate change. She has been inspired and uplifted by the practical, down-to-earth wisdom and inspiration of the beautiful women in this international congregation with whom she has "shared the most wonderful, faith-filled life possible."

"My greatest desire, at this stage of my life,” says Sister Liz, “is to continue, with joy and delight, to try to live the Gospel of Jesus in the spirit of St. Julie and Francoise, inspired by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who have given me so much."

Sister Liz's Ministries

1965-66 Most Holy Trinity School, San Jose, Calif. (Teacher, Grade 2)
1966-70 St. Mark School, Seattle, Wash. (Teacher, Grade 1)
1970-71 Notre Dame High School, Salinas, Calif. (Teacher)
1971-73 St. Mark School, Seattle, Wash. (Teacher, Junior High)
1973-74 St. Mark School, Seattle, Wash. (Principal and 2nd Grade Teacher)
1974-77 Notre Dame High School, Salinas, Calif. (Dean)
1977-80 Notre Dame School, Santa Barbara, Calif. (Junior High Teacher)
1980-86 St. Lucy School, Campbell, Calif. (Religion Coordinator)
1986-90 Provincial House, Saratoga, Calif. (Religious Education)
1990-2003 Seattle, Wash. Area (Religious Education Consultant)
2003-09 Archdiocese of Seattle, Wash. (Religious Education Consultant)
2009-11 Archdiocese of Seattle, Wash. (Advisor for Spiritual Life and Mission, Parishes & Schools)
2011- Present  Archdiocese of Seattle in Burien, Wash. (Native American Catechesis)

If you’d like to make a gift to the Sisters in Sister Liz's honor online, please click here or to give by mail or phone, please click here.


  1. Good afternoon Sister Liz,

    My name is Theresa Tweet, and I am a student at the Saint. Paul Seminary School of Divinity on the St. Paul campus in Minnesota. I am in my last semester of their Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program (MAPM), and I am currently working on my final project entitled “A Compare and Contrast on the Lakota spirituality as presented by Haka Sapa (Black Elk) and the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.”
    I received information back from the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle from Seth Dalby. Seth contacted a gentleman named Joseph Tancioco and Joseph sent me the only files that he had that were still available, which were the “Meeting Agenda’s for Native American Catechesis.” Mr. Tancioco said you had written a book in the 90s on Native evangelization called “Keepers of the Fire,” and he recommended that I get in touch with you. Is there any information that you would be willing to share with me about Native evangelization from the ’90s, or would it be possible to get a copy of the book?

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Theresa Tweet

  2. Sr. Liz!
    You will be amazed at what I’ve been up to since I retired! First of all my artwork has exploded. I’d love to send you some of them. I think I have 80 pictures on my phone but will send you possibly 10. But my BIG news is that I wrote a book called Beyond the Natural. It’s about what God has done in my life and seriously the Holy Spirit took control of that book right from the get go. It has marveled people. Even I am amazed. I’d love for you to read it.

  3. Sr. Liz,
    I am hoping your remember me. I participated in the "Advisor for Spiritual Life and Mission" program from September 2004 through Fall of 2006. This training was foundational in my preparation in my current role as Director of Campus Ministry and religion teacher at Assumption-St. Bridget School in Seattle. I have been trying to locate you and found this site so decided to send a message. I am hoping you could provide me with documentation or a certificate of completion for the training I completed. I am in the process of having my academic credentials evaluated as part of the Catechetical Certification requirements for the Archdiocese of Seattle and this will be very helpful. I appreciate any assistance you can provide. With Blessings, Robin Hendricks

    1. Hello Robin! Thanks for reaching out to Sister Liz. I'll forward your message to her right away.

      (for the Sisters)

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