Sister To and Fro
Some of the sisters who ministered in New Mexico stayed there for many consecutive years, but Sister Marie Brenda came back to Kentucky several times to teach or be a principal before returning to the Southwest.
In 1970, she was asked to be principal and teacher at St. Andrew School in Harrodsburg, Ky., which required her to do three things she’d never done – be a principal, teach the seventh and eighth grades and learn to drive. “I had to get up to study eighth grade math every morning,” she said.
She taught all grades in her years in the classroom, but she enjoyed fourth grade the best. “They were old enough to do things on their own but were not a discipline problem.”
In 1975, Sister Marie Brenda was chosen to lead the community post office at Maple Mount, but after a few months on the job, the superior decided she was needed to take over as principal and teacher at St. Joseph School in San Fidel, N.M. After three years there, she began 18 years of parish ministry in the Southwest.
From 1995-97, she served in outreach in the far western Kentucky town of Benton, taking communion to people in hospitals and nursing homes. In 1997 she returned to New Mexico for a year, but she needed surgery in 1998, and knowing the conditions where she lived in New Mexico were not conducive to her recovery, she decided it was time to come home to the Mount for good.
“It was hard leaving New Mexico, most people think it is,” she said. “The people make the place.”
Sister Marie Brenda has a back ailment, and once she returned to Maple Mount, she found exercising in the pool at Owensboro’s HealthPark did wonders for her. It also helped her develop a friendship with the woman who drove her to the HealthPark for 12 years, Sister Ann Patrice Cecil.
“She loved exercising in the water,” Sister Ann Patrice said. “She’s a wonderful motivator, even if she didn’t feel good, she was very dedicated to exercise.”
Sister Marie Brenda is a very prayerful person, Sister Ann Patrice said. “She listens to the rosary on tape every day. She’s very disciplined in her prayer life,” she said. “We mark the full moon on our calendars. She likes to go outside each month and see the full moon. She’s a very loyal friend.”
Sister Marie Brenda worked the community switchboard for 11 years until retiring in 2009. Her room in Saint Joseph Villa previously belonged to Sister Joseph Adrian Russell, who was her friend and housemate for many years in New Mexico. She’s always enjoyed playing cards and used to crochet baby blankets in her free time, but these days she devotes most of her time to prayer. She considers herself blessed to be a sister.
“It’s been a good life. I wouldn’t have done anything else,” she said. “The Lord knew best.”
By Dan Heckel