Sister Mary Brenda, O.P.
Sister Mary Brenda, O.P.
Sister Mary was born in LaPorte, Indiana to Stanley and Peggy Brenda.She is one of nine children, enjoying six brothers and two sisters.Sister Mary attended the nursing program at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. She became a registered nurse and continued her studies earning a Bachelor’sin Health Education from Penn State University. During her early college years she volunteered as a medical missionary working in the poorest of areas in Bogota, Colombia with the religious congregation Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. It was during these missionsthat idea of a religious vocation began to stir in her heart. “In 1989, I entered a religious congregation on the east coast. My experience of initial formation was rich in scripture and prayer. After some years however, I realized God was leading me to something more. As the spirit would have it, I discovered what that ‘something more’was when I met members of the Dominican Order.” In 1996, Sister Mary joined the Houston Dominican sisters.
Sister Mary has touched many in her ministry work. She has served as the Director of HIV/AIDS Outreach Ministry for Catholic Charities in the Galveston/Houston Diocese as well as doing massage therapy and retreat ministry. “My ministry and mission as a Dominican has been an amazing journey – something far greater than I could have ever imagined or dreamed of.”
Sister Mary has served as the Administrator of St. Bakhita Dispensary in Nairobi, Kenya and the Development Support staff for Our Lady of Grace School, Kisumu, Kenya. “As a Dominican sister, my life of being rooted in scripture and prayer has only continued to grow more deeply. The people and the places where God has sent me only serve to remind me of how much gospel love is still needed in our world today.”
Today Sister Mary serves as the school nurse at St. Agnes Academy. She enjoys her work with the young people at St. Agnes and you will often find her attending retreats and after-school events supporting her students. “I love getting to know the students and celebrating their talents and successes.”
In addition to taking care of the health care needs of the students of St. Agnes Academy Sister Mary coordinates two very special missions for the students at St. Agnes Academy. In the spring she accompanies them to Eagle Pass, Texas, where they get to experience first-hand the challenges the poor at the border are faced with. The students help repair and paint homes as well as help with bible school lessons in a local catholic primary school.
The summer mission she coordinates is an immersion mission in Kisumu, Kenya in East Africa. “It is all about service and relationships.” The students rotate through a series of experiences, including being a student in the classroom for a day, following the same schedule of chores, daily Mass, and after school recreation. When they are not in the classroom the students are lending a hand in the school kitchen, vegetable garden, cow stalls, chicken house, or fixing up and painting old dorm rooms. “Being able to walk with the young people in Africa and with the youth at St. Agnes Academy here in Houston are particularly blest ministries for me. I have had my privileged years in foreign mission. There couldn’t be a more meaningful life than being one who gets to be to plant new seeds of faith, hope and love in the hearts and minds of today’s young. For this I am more grateful than words can ever say.”
“What I love most about being a Dominican is the challenge of our mission statement, ‘We assume the inherent risks of preaching and teaching the gospel’. These risks include being companions on the journey with others. I love being able to not only be in relationship with members of our community, but with the greater worldwide Dominican Family as well. I continue to look forward to many more years of serving God on this amazing journey as a Dominican sister.”
From notes submitted by Sister Mary Brenda, O.P. July 2014.