sister virginia browne

April 19, 1922 - December 13, 2015

Generous, fun-loving, humble, kind

James and Margaret (Flavin) Browne welcomed Virginia, their sixth child and fifth daughter, on April 19, 1922, in Kansas City, Missouri. Eventually the family increased by five more children, two sons and three daughters. Virginia’s parents owned and operated a grocery store. Because both parents were out of the home during the day, a live-in housekeeper stayed with the children, supervising chores and behavior. One parent would come home for lunch each day—usually dad. If things weren’t going the way they should, dad would go back to the store and inform their mother who would then come home to take care of the situation. Not wanting that to happen, they were usually pretty well behaved!

Virginia attended Redemptorist Elementary and Redemptorist High. She was particularly fond of S. Clara Joseph Rogers whom she said was very kind, helping her with studies, and of S. Thecla Stinn (Maureen). Virginia spent a lot of Saturdays at the convent helping the sisters, a number of whom she loved to tease. Three of the Browne daughters entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. Virginia’s oldest sister, Mary Elizabeth was a lab technician at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City—a ministry she loved. She was the first of the three to apply to enter but was told at that time that our sisters didn’t do that kind of ministry. In the meantime, her younger sister Dorothy entered when she completed high school, and just at the time Dorothy finished the novitiate, Virginia also entered. Shortly after that, during a visit to Kansas City, Mother Bernard Dunne met with Mary Elizabeth and told her that if she still wanted to enter, it would be acceptable to continue to be a lab technician. (She entered the following September and became S. James Patrice.)

It was September 15, 1940, when Virginia entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. She received the religious habit and the name Sister Mary Teresita on March 19, 1941. Her bachelor’s degree in elementary education was from Fontbonne College.

S. Virginia served in elementary education as a primary grade teacher from 1943-1980. She taught at St. Luke in Richmond Heights and St. Vincent de Paul in St. Louis (1943); Nativity of Our Lord, St. Louis (1948); Immaculate Conception, Hannibal (1953); St. Joseph Home for Boys, St. Louis (1956); Sacred Heart, Shawano, Wisconsin (1958); St. Joseph, Marquette, Michigan (1960); St. Matthew, St. Louis (1963); Most Holy Rosary, St. Louis (1964); St. Patrick, St. Joseph, Missouri (1965); St. Bede the Venerable, Chicago, Illinois (1968); Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Kansas City (1972). She was an excellent primary teacher who enjoyed the children and, consequently, they loved to be around her. S. Virginia said she was happy at all the places she taught but she particularly enjoyed working with the children who came from poor families. Younger sisters, new to teaching, found her to be a great support.

The year 1980 found S. Virginia embarking on a new ministry as the Assistant Manager at Cathedral Square Towers in Kansas City. In 1982, the space where the sisters were living was needed for offices so S. Virginia needed to move and made the decision to go back into the classroom. For the next ten years she was a part-time preschool teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and at Our Lady of Angels, both in Kansas City. After some sabbatical and transitioning time, S. Virginia was on the geriatric care staff of Redemptorist Retirement Home in Kansas City, followed by three years of substitute teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes, Raytown, Missouri. From 1999-2002 she was a tutor and then, pre-school kindergarten aide at Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park, Kansas. After a year of volunteer work with CSJ Care, Kansas City, Missouri, S. Virginia decided in 2003 that it was time to retire to Nazareth Living Center. Visiting sisters, especially those in skilled-care, became one of her chosen activities.

S. Helen Oates


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