Biographies

Sister Mary St. John Brown, MM

Born: December 1, 1885
Entered: February 1, 1922
Died: March 19, 1928

“It shall be given to you: good measure, and pressed down and shaken together, and running over. For with the same measure that you shall meet withal, it shall be measured to you again.”

Reverend dear Fathers, students, Sisters, and dear friends: The angel of eternal light has come again to Maryknoll and this time has taken one of our choicest souls. It was out of God’s bounty that she came to us – He gave, He has taken away – blessed be His holy Will!

Sr. Mary St. John, known in the world as Alice Brown, was with us a comparatively few years, but in that short space of time she won the confidence of her superiors and the intense love of her Sisters. She completed in a short space of time the perfect life which was expected of her. The age of maturity is not written by years, and the Book of Wisdom tells us that an immaculate life is old age.  She rose high in the Society to which she affiliated herself; she came quickly upwards into the Council and became a comfort and a guide to your Mother General and an examplar to all who knew her. Her life before she entered Maryknoll is known to others here better than it is to me, but we can imagine from what we have seen of that life here, what her life was before she came to us.

We know that as the world reckons accomplishments, hers was indeed considerable and of a high grade; according to the standards of Christ, too, outside of the convent became in a special measure, of course, our gain, and we know how strong must have been the bond that united her to them – a bond that remained strong until death.

At her anointing, she turned to Father Cotta and said with great difficulty, “I commend my soul to the mercy of God.” That was her final thought – God’s loving mercy. We like to think that her Spouse took her to Himself speedily and that the angel of eternal light brought her from the particular judgment at once into the mansion reserved for her in the house of her Master.

Certainly it is comforting to think that her death coincided with the feast of the patron of a happy death, St. Joseph. It will interest you to know that a novena in which she shared and which was begun for a very particular spiritual end which she had in view came to a close on that great day. And the prayer was answered.

As I think of her, there comes to my mind one especially striking characteristic in her life – that was her supreme generosity. For her the Master had emptied Himself and for Him she poured self out of her own soul till there was room only for the love of God and for the love of others in God. In all she did she showed that generous spirit. Her example of religious observance was quite perfect, as you know; her obedience was full and cheerful; her work was excellent; her intelligence keen and fine; her disposition gentle and restrained, but there is no trait that can exceed her generosity. It would be difficult to find one who was less considerate of her own convenience and more delicately concerned for others than Sr. St. John. I know from her own lips that one great worry she had as her illness approached was that it would give so much trouble to others, and particularly make her beloved Mother General solicitious and anxious.

That is why, as I look upon her life, I feel that God must soon reward her. She gave all, she gave without stint, all for all, and all must certainly come to her in good measure, and pressed down, and shaken together and running over, for with what measure she has meted, it will be measured to her.

And now as she thought so constantly of others, may we not forget her – but taking up her final plea for loving mercy, let us beseech God to speedily reward this useful and edifying life.

May sweet Jesus have mercy on her soul!