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Sister Brendan Harvey

Sister Brendan Harvey

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“A practical woman of sturdy ancestry and no-nonsense breeding, Sister Brendan would not want us to sentimentalize her now. She was a good Sister of Providence who loved her family, her Congregation and her God and gave of herself totally to all three,” said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Brendan Harvey, who died Jan. 14.

Margaret Harvey was born Aug. 27, 1919, in Ayrshire, Scotland, to John and Margaret (Bresnahan) Harvey. “John, born in Scotland, and Margaret, born in Ireland, passed on to their four children the strong faith of their Celtic heritage,” said Sister Mary Roger.

Sister Brendan attended elementary school at St. Angela, Chicago. For her secondary education, she attended Providence Juniorate at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She entered the Congregation Jan. 9, 1937, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1939, and 1945, respectively. Sister Brendan earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in special education from Cardinal Stritch College, Milwaukee.

Sister Brendan began teaching in 1939 at St. Athanasius, Evanston, Ill. She also spent two years in Chicago at Our Lady of Mercy. Sister Brendan’s classrooms were also at Holy Redeemer, Berwyn, Md., and Annunziata, St. Louis. The majority of her primary-school teaching ministry was spent in Indiana at Sacred Heart, Evansville; Holy Cross and Nativity, Indianapolis; and St. Patrick, Terre Haute.

In 1966, Sister Brendan’s focus in teaching turned to special education. She ministered at St. Mary Child Center, Indianapolis, until 1969. For the next six years she taught at either Cara School or the Children’s Learning Center, both in Terre Haute.

From 1977 to 1987, Sister Brendan ministered at Catholic Charities in Terre Haute. In this ministry, she created the Simeon House at St. Patrick Parish, a program of congregate living for the elderly.

Sister Brendan will always be remembered for her role in helping to write and publish the “To God Through Music” series as well as “The Story of Anne Therese” children’s book and coloring book about Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

After a year’s sabbatical at the Galilee Renewal Institute in Ontario, Canada, Sister Brendan ministered at St. Theresa Opportunity Center in Taiwan. From 1989 to 2000, she retired but spent her days busy with other endeavors. Some of these activities included working at the Catholic New World in Chicago; the Developmental Education Program in Indianapolis; Catholic Charities in Terre Haute; and at Abbey Press, St. Meinrad, Ind., where she edited children’s books.

“In the year 2000, Sister Brendan perceived the pressing need for a food pantry in West Terre Haute, Ind., and with a number of lay people and sisters opened the Providence Food Pantry in the basement of the former St. Leonard’s parish school. Six years later, having put the pantry on a solid foundation, she handed it over to others to continue,” shared Sister Mary Roger.

From 2006 to 2008, Sister Brendan ministered as a tutor at Educational/Family Services.

“Sister Brendan was rarely inactive. She was a perfect example of our traditional saying: ‘A Sister of Providence can do anything that needs to be done.’ Over the last four years, we living in the motherhouse community have thrived under her benevolent presence as activity director. No one can count the number of birthday parties, coffee klatches, New Year’s Eve gatherings, hall parties, Kentucky Derby celebrations and on and on over which she presided, providing ample refreshments from mysterious but generous sources. Sister Brendan loved us all and wanted to make us happy in any way she could. Sadly, like spoiled children, I fear we frequently failed to show her appropriate gratitude,” continued Sister Mary Roger.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Brendan was celebrated Jan. 18, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by both of her brothers. She is survived by her sister, Sister Marie Brendan Harvey.

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