In Memory

Sister M. Brendan O’Brien, IHM

April 7, 1886 – July 25, 1965

Sister M. Brendan O’Brien, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, July 25, 1965, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Carbondale, Pennsylvania.

She was born on April 7, 1886 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and given the name Teresa Maria. She was the daughter of the late Edward and Maria Teresa Hayes O’Brien. She entered the IHM Congregation on August 15, 1904, received the religious habit on August 15, 1905, and made profession of her vows on July 16, 1907.

Sister Brendan served as a teacher a the following schools: St. Leo Elementary School in Ashley, PA, from 1907 to 1909; St. Paul High School in Scranton, PA, from 1909 to 1915; St. Leo High School in Ashley, PA, from 1915 to 1920 and 1922 to 1925; St. Patrick High School in Olyphant, PA, from 1920 to 1921; St. John the Evangelist High School in Pittston, PA, from 1921 to 1922; and St. Mary of the Mount High School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1925 to 1932.

Sister served as principal at St. Leo High School in Ashley, PA, from 1922 to 1925.

She also served the IHM Congregation as supervisor of schools in both Pennsylvania and New York, from 1932 to 1955; and secretary general at the IHM Motherhouse in Scranton, PA, from 1955 until the time of her death.

She was preceded in death by four brothers, Michael (infant), William, Edward and Joseph Edward, and three sisters, Catherine (infant), Genevieve and Mary Agnes Beegan.

She is survived by two sisters, Agnes and Ada Stokes of Scranton, PA, nieces and nephews.

Interment is at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, Pennsylvania.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Archival Remembrance:

During the month of June, the community sustained a shock when it learned that the Secretary General, our beloved Sister Brendan, had suffered a massive stroke. For five weeks, she lay in coma, and on July 25, God claimed her soul.

Sister Brendan’s capabilities were many and varied. As a high school teacher, she brought to her work a great love for those under her care and a fine mind to enrich her teaching. Her knowledge of our holy religion was noteworthy, assisted in no small way by her earlier work at Catholic University, where she collaborated with Father Felix Kirsch, in compiling a new Catechism, “Catholic Faith.” Many young men and women in high positions attest to the fact that Sister opened to them many avenues of learning and that they received more than just book knowledge under her tutelage.

As Supervisor of our schools, Sister Brendan’s studied judgment on all questions received respectful acceptance. Priests, Sisters, and lay people looked up to her, for they knew her opinions were the result of serious thinking. Her wide reading made her conversant on almost any subject; her cultured mind kept apace with all that went on in the educational field. Her withdrawal from the office of Supervisor was endured only because the community called her to a higher post – that of Secretary General.

In was in this position that her erudition came to its full flowering. The same devotion to scholarship that characterized her teaching and supervisory duties, she now exercised in an entirely new type of work. She brought an informed mind to her task, handling with finesse the delicate problems that came to her desk. Whether it be a high dignitary of the Church, a Sister, or a lay person, she knew the “juste mot” to smooth the rough path and maintain even relationships.

Her contact with Sisters of other Communities was a source of happiness on both sides. This is evidenced from the following excerpts from letters received after her death:

“With you we keenly feel this loss and our sorrow spontaneously mingles with yours. Sister Brendan was splendidly devoted to her Community; she was a true friend of ours. We think of her with great affection and we realize that now Sister Brendan has achieved that fullness of life and that glorious reward which only God can bestow on those who love him.”

“… from our first meeting I felt drawn to her irresistibly. That feeling of esteem, admiration, and affection never waned through the years and I devoutly hope that now that she is in heaven, she will know how big a part of my heart’s affection she held.”

” Her attainments were many, her piety deep and wholesome, her generosity limitless. Dare we try to estimate the overwhelming welcome and reward given her as our eternal Father says: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

May God abundantly reward our dear Sister M. Brendan who labored so well for the welfare of our beloved community.

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