In her 70 years with the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Sister Terrence Landini has focused largely on caring for the sick and the dying. But these days, she finds herself dispensing more wisdom.

“Sister T,” as she is best known, is recognized for her ability to tee up advice, guidance, or a story for pretty much any situation. After more than 50 years in various high-profile positions with the Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, she’s grateful to have a special mission in the fast-moving health care field.

“I was just talking to a new chaplain or a social worker recently and I told them it always comes back to this: Your work is sacred — our work is sacred,” said Landini, 89. “I tell them about just going to the chapel and asking God to bless you. I would ask God to help me be a positive influence to whomever he placed in my way that day. You become a better person experiencing all this.”

Although she officially retired from the hospital more than 15 years ago, Landini dutifully carries out the charism of the Venerable Mary Potter, foundress of the Little Company of Mary Catholic ministry in 1877 in England.

Since arriving at the Torrance medical center in 1966 — six years after it opened — Landini has been a supervising nurse, administrator, and director of human resources, plus sat on the Community Ministry and Foundation boards at the hospital. She has also been superior of the Little Company of Mary Convent in Torrance and a provincial councilor.

With COVID-19 protocols still in effect, she focuses as much on training the next generation as she does visiting with patient families as they wait anxiously in the waiting rooms. She advocates for more one-on-one care from doctors and nurses and remains on-call for consultation with a sharp mind and a generous heart — a fitting description for someone who has specialized in cardiac care.

That career began in the 1950s as a nurse and supervisor at a Little Company of Mary facility in Evergreen Park, Illinois. The facility was near her childhood home, where she grew up known as Jean Theresa Landini on the north side of Chicago to an Italian-Polish family.

She said she felt a calling to religious life in fourth grade and entered the convent after high school. Her mother wanted her to be a nurse, but the family couldn’t afford to send her to school, so she nudged her daughter that way instead.

In Catholic elementary school, Landini admired the Daughters of Charity for their dedication to the sick. In the eighth grade, she was drawn to the Little Company of Mary order dedicated to those suffering and dying. She saw those sisters working at a Chicago hospital in their white nursing gowns and pale blue veils.

At age 18, she gravitated toward the Little Company of Mary order in 1952 as a postulant. Less than a year later she had her habit and name given to her. 

“It’s a sacrifice that you’re willing to make because you feel that God has called you to a different way of life and that you may take care of more families and more children,” she said.

Landini said it “hit me like a bolt” when she was transferred to Southern California in the mid-1960s, but “it only took about a year before I fell in love with the place.”

“It’s also a reminder: When God asks something great of you, and you generously say yes, it’s because he has something greater in mind,” she said. “My vows were about being available and serving where the need is greatest. As it turned out, my dream really came true here and the Lord blessed me. I believe this is where God wants me to be and what he wants me to do.”

Sister Terrence Landini holds a newborn baby — one of many miracles she’s seen during her 70 years with the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary. (Providence LCM)

Long before Little Company of Mary merged with the Providence Sisters in 1999, Landini’s presence in the facility could be seen in many places. A large oil painting of her was commissioned in 2008 and sits at the entrance to the hospital’s Centofante Family Chapel — the place where she recently had her platinum jubilee Mass celebrated at Landini’s home parish, St. Lawrence Martyr Church in Redondo Beach.

In March, the Sister Terrence Landini Therapeutic Pool was unveiled and blessed in the Advanced Care Center. Landini admits she uses the facility twice a week.

Dr. Anna Mellor, a concierge physician based in Rolling Hills Estates, started in the medical field some 30 years ago. She considered the life of a sister in medicine early on and leans on Landini for showing her how to be “an amazing role model as a woman and as a woman of faith” for how she combined her vocation and love of health sciences.

“She has always been so joyful in her interactions with people and has not let any of her physical limitations get in the way of visiting the sick,” said Mellor, a parishioner at American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach. “Where her work ends and life begins are the same.”

Looking to the future, Landini believes it’s “very important to prepare the people who will follow you.

“Mary Potter once said we will be small in numbers at the start but those who join us will be part of the ‘Greater Company of Mary,’ and would carry on the legacy. We have to be sure we never lose our faith-based reasons for being here. Mary Potter would be proud of all we have accomplished.”