Wake Reflection for Sister Mary Albert O’Bryan, OSU
In the name of the community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, I offer love and sympathy to all of us-the religious family of Sister Mary Albert, especially to Sister’s classmates Sisters Francis Joseph, Kathy Stein, Michele, Rose Jean, Sheila Anne, and Sara Marie. I offer love and sympathy to others gathered here to pray with and for Sister Mary Albert. To the staff in health care and pastoral care, and to the Hospice volunteers, our loving gratitude. Such a beautiful, caring, and professional ministry you give us. To each and every one of us who accompanied Sister Mary Albert with round the clock hourly prayerful vigil, my deep and sincere gratitude.
Sister Mary Albert was born Teresa Noma, the daughter of Thomas Albertus and Mary Gervase Harp O’Sryan on April 27,1924 in Marion County, Kentucky. She was baptized on May 2, 1924 at Saint Francisof Assisi Church in Saint Francis, Kentucky. Teresa attended Saint Ann School in Howardstown, Kentucky: After her father died, Teresa’s mother, unable to care for her little daughter, placed Teresa in Saint Joseph Orphan Home in Louisville, where she was surrounded by loving care and received the rest of her elementary education. Secondary education was received at Ursuline Academy in Louisville.
Although written autobiographical details of Teresa’s life are few, I found a message written by Dominican Priest Father P.F. Connolly, Pastor of the Church of St. Louis Bertrand in Louisville, to Mother Mary Wilfrid Hayden. The message was dated Monday, August 14, 1961. “Dear Mother: I have known Miss Teresa O’Bryan for about five years. She is a most conscientious, hard-working lady. She has wished the religious life for many years, but her mother was not of the same mind. Now her mother has passed on, and she has freely chosen your community to see if she has a religious vocation. She loves her faith, and is serious about practicing it. She is generous and reliable. I feel happy, Mother Mary, that you are giving her an opportunity for your community. I certainly recommend a chance for her, and if I can do anything further to help her or help you, Mother, please feel free to call me.”
On September 7, 1961, Teresa Noma O’Bryan, at the age of 37, entered the postulancy program of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. On August 14, 1962, Teresa received the name of Sister Mary Albert. She professed vows for five years on August 15, 1964 and professed perpetual vows on August 15, 1969.
Sister Mary Albert began the ministry of education and Christian formation at Saint Francis School in Loretto, Kentucky, as teacher of students in seventh grade. She ministered in other schools in the archdiocese of Louisville, the diocese of Owensboro, and at Lourdes High School in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Her desire, as written in her own words, “to work for a cause, believe in a cause, and experience a love for that cause,” led her to outreach ministry at Saint Boniface in Louisville, to Mercy Hospital in Owensboro, and to Morristown, Tennessee. In Morristown Sister Mary Albert worked with developmentally disabled adult males, teaching them self-care and housekeeping skills. Sister Mary Albert’s ministries at the motherhouse were many and varied. She could be found in the kitchen, diet kitchen, dairy,
and business office. She served as Assistant Local Coordinator and as Director of Transportation. From 1999 until January 2003 Sister Mary Albert ministered part-time at Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center as receptionist.
When Sister Mary Albert,, having been diagnosed with leukemia, began living with that reality, many times a young girl or boy attending a program at the Center and visiting in Saint Joseph Villa might be heard saying to another friend: “Come and visit a Sister who is dying and who is not afraid of dying.”
On July 16, 2003, in late afternoon, on a feast of the Blessed Mother – the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel — Sister Mary Albert was embraced into the sacred heart of Jesus — the One, in Whom she had placed her trust throughout her life.
Sister Mary Albert, there are other beautiful and profound truths that storied your faith journey. We respect your wish for privacy so we will carry those truths in the silences of our hearts. We are deeply grateful to you and God for giving most of us time to say our earthly good-byes. Today we pray that eternal rest be given you, and that perpetual light shine upon you. Thank you for those things you have taught us in living and in dying. May your soul ‘ and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.
Sister Rose Marita
Congregational Leader 2000-2004
July 28, 2003