The Land of Enchantment
“It was a big adventure for me,” she said. “It was a lot of fun to ride on the train.”
She was in Farmington, in northern New Mexico, for a year, then spent the next four years at St. Joseph School in San Fidel, about halfway between Albuquerque and Gallup. It was the beginning of a lifelong love for the Southwest.
“I liked (New Mexico) right away. I would have stayed longer if I could have,” she said. “We’d walk the foothills on the mesas and have a picnic. We had happiness on our missions. We’d pick nuts to make candy. We’d freeze apples so we could make pies in the winter.”
This is what she wrote about her time in New Mexico. “In the early days (1959-63) there were 27 Ursulines in New Mexico – 10 at Farmington, 10 at Waterflow and seven at San Fidel. We became close friends with the sisters in New Mexico and always got together for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. At Thanksgiving, after dinner we would go to Shiprock to skate. Brother Florence would fit us with skates and give us refreshments and what great fun we had. We usually gathered at San Fidel at Christmas and at Waterflow for Easter. When school was out there was a retreat for sisters at Waterflow, so I was the cook for four years. I would arise at 4 a.m. and make several pies or cakes or yeast bread for 30 people or more.”
Sister Marie Montgomery served 41 years in the Southwest, some of those with Sister Marie Brenda. “She’s a woman of prayer and very grateful. If you do anything for her, she just keeps thanking you,” Sister Marie said. “She made friends wherever she went. She led RCIA for years in New Mexico. She loved those people and she loved to teach them.”
For 18 of the next 20 years beginning in 1978, she was a parish minister teaching religious education at San Juan Pueblo, Acoma and Zuni in New Mexico and at Houck, Ariz. “I learned just a little of each native language, enough to converse a little with the older members of the tribes, who many times didn’t know any English,” she said.
Her 10 years in Acoma were her favorite, and one year she had 98 children receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. “The people were very friendly and cooperative,” she said.