sister mary brigid massey

August 8, 1930 - November 18, 2013

A gentle, strong and faith-filled woman

Mona Mae Massey was born in Searcy, Ark. on August 8, 1930, fourth child and second daughter of Claude and Nola Mae (Wilkerson) Massey. Her family grew to five girls and four boys. She recalled her childhood as being happy and filled with lots of activity with family and friends.

Her family did not belong to any particular church. Sometimes she attended services at various churches, Pentecostal, Baptist, or Methodist because her friends were there. Occasionally she prayed the rosary with a Catholic family (though she thought it was boring).

In her own words, from her oral history, S. Brigid said:

Later on as I got a little older, I don’t recall the time, possibly about 10 or 12 years old, I went to church with the family, and we went to Mass … and when I walked out of Mass that day I knew that I was not the same. I knew that I was entirely different. I knew that with a certain amount of certainty that when I grew up I was going to be a Catholic, and I knew that because I had experienced the presence of God in this Mass. There was never a doubt in my mind, and even to this day, that God was present there.

During a summer vacation, she visited her sister in St. Louis. Deciding to stay with her, she dropped out of high school and found work. One day she happened to stop by the Cathedral while instructions for non-Catholics were being held. She joined the instructions and eventually became a Catholic. Before she had ever met a sister she decided that she would become one. Less than a year after becoming Catholic, on September 15, 1950, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Under the tutelage of S. Bernard Joseph Dunne, S. Brigid completed high school. Her career in education began in 1953 as a Primary teacher at Nativity School in Chicago. She then taught at Visitation in Kansas City followed by Junior High at St. Mary’s in Peoria. After a year in pastoral ministry there, she returned to teaching. She taught Intermediate students at Nativity in Chicago; St. Matthew in St. Louis; Our Lady of the Americas in Kansas City, and Holy Cross in Champaign, Ill.

In 1978 S. Brigid ministered in Community Service at Nazareth followed by three years as co-director of the retirement community at St. Joseph Academy. In 1984 she became the superior at Nazareth Convent until 1988 when she worked one year with Consumer Credit Counseling Services in St. Louis. The next nine and a half years brought S. Brigid back to the classroom working with Intermediate students at Incarnate Word in Chesterfield, Mo.

Deciding to leave teaching, S. Brigid spent 1999 to 2012 working first with the Office of Aging and then as a driver with the Senior Ministry Office, where it was noted that she was “always cheerful and willing to drive.” In 2012 she became a volunteer. In 2013 she retired to the Village at Nazareth.

S. Brigid was described as “a gentle yet strong, faith-filled, woman who treasured her vocation … a compassionate woman … [with] a quiet sense of humor exhibited by a great twinkle in her eyes.”

She truly lived the message of the opening hymn of her memorial service: “Here I am Lord.” It eloquently captured her attitude toward life, which was, being available for whatever God asked.

With S. Rita McGovern, co-worker, housemate and dear friend of many years we say, “until we meet again.”

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