Sister Brigid Kelliher, OSB

November 9, 1928 - October 21, 2012

S. Brigid KelliherSister Brigid Kelliher, OSB, 83, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died unexpectedly on Sunday, October 21, 2012, in Kansas City, Missouri.  The vigil service will be Thursday, October 25, 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there on Friday, October 26, at 10:30.

Sister Brigid was born to John Daniel and Mary Ellen Kelleth Kelliher on November 9, 1928, and baptized Mary Catherine at Assumption Church, Topeka, Kansas.  The family moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska, where she lived until she entered the Mount community in 1947. Sister Brigid made monastic profession in 1948. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Mount St. Scholastica College and taught until 1977 in many schools staffed by her Benedictine community including schools in the Kansas City area and in St. Joseph, Missouri. She studied at Creighton University and in 1980 received a master's degree in pastoral ministry.She was active in religious education and in parish and hospital ministry until she became secretary and hospitality minister in 1994 at Sophia Center, the Mount’s spirituality center. Sister Brigid is survived by her brother Charles and his wife Jeannine, by her nephews Michael and Timothy and their families, all of Kearney, Nebraska, by cousins, and by her religious community.  Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.

Memorial Card for Sister Brigid

I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

Sister Brigid Kelliher was born in Topeka, Kansas, to John Daniel and Mary Ellen Kellett Kelliher. Early in her life, her family moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska, the home place she always claimed. Sister Brigid entered Mount St. Scholastica in 1947 and made monastic profession in 1948. She received her B.A. in English from Mount St. Scholastica College and taught in numerous schools until 1977. She received an M.A in pastoral ministry in 1980 from Creighton University. Active in the religious education of young people and adults, Sister Brigid served in parish and hospital ministry until 1994 when she began work at Sophia Center as secretary and hospitality minister. Those who came to Sophia knew her welcoming presence and her concern for their comfort and welfare. Tenacious and questioning, she never tired of learning. She appreciated the gifts of others and invited their participation in the spiritual ministry of Sophia Center. She was faithful to prayer and the spirit of the Rule, devoted to her brother and his family, as well as to her many college prayer partners and friends, and loving to guests and community members. Let us remember her in grateful prayer.

Reflection given at the Vigil Service

by Evelyn Gregory, OSB 

This evening we offer sympathy to Sister Brigid’s brother Charles Edward and to his wife Jeannine, to their sons Michael and Timothy, to their families, and to those here present and to all who mourn Brigid’s death.

Brigid had a great love for Charles Edward and his dear family of which she often spoke; she loved especially her Benedictine community, and she held all people in her heart where no one is stranger. 

Brigid loved her Irish heritage and her patroness, Brigid of Ireland, and whenever possible faithfully celebrated being Irish. On St. Patrick’s Day she happily sported the Kelly green! And like many Nebraskans, she was proud to claim Nebraska as her home.

Brigid’s gift to our class of the thirteen who entered the community was one of unifying a diverse group, in our earlier years gathering us together, and in later times communicating through letters, notes, and phone calls. She remained in contact with Sisters Mary Aidan, Elizabeth vonTersch, and Ephrem who were asked to go to the newly established California foundation immediately after our final profession. Brigid also kept in touch with those of our class who left the community.

Brigid welcomed Vatican II with enthusiasm, so grateful for the use of English in the liturgy. She embraced the document of ‘Christ in the Modern World’ which recognized Christ’s presence in the church, in all people, and in the world. She viewed the changes as significant, and liked being on the cutting edge.

Sister Brigid will be remembered especially for her generous hospitality toward guests. Her great joy was to welcome those who come to the monastery. By her gentle and warm smile she made visitors feel at home– college students, retreatants, first time visitors, family and friends.

She would somehow mysteriously just appear at Sophia, greeting, smiling, and then just sit among the guests or move quietly to the back of the room. 

A special touch of Brigid’s hospitality was the offering of small gifts. She would plant seeds of the cox comb and other flowers in small styrofoam cups, nourish their tender growth, and offer these beginning plants to the many who cherished them. Sometimes she would ask guests to assist her with her own garden plot.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for you from the foundation of the world...for I was a stranger and you welcomed me...” (Matthew 25:34-38) And God will embrace Brigid with the hospitality of love.

Brigid contained an inner restless spirit ready to burst forth into a new resurrection, a spirit that would not be confined by external limitations, for underneath her slow and deliberate movement was a well spring overflowing, which resisted imposed external boundaries.

In her search for wisdom, Brigid kept her plans hidden from view with Leproconish intent until they suddenly came to fruition and became known to others, at times causing surprise or shock.

Remembering the admonition from the Book of Proverbs, Brigid continued to pursue wisdom: “Get wisdom, get insight; ...Do not forsake her, and she will keep you: love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you: she will honor you if you embrace her.” (Prov. 4:5-8)

It seems fitting that God would call Brigid to birth in the newness of eternal life on the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and on the threshold of the celebration of our Sesquicentennial Year. Perhaps Brigid would exclaim with Julianne of Norwich that ‘All will be well; all matter of things will be well.”

Brigid will now celebrate our 150th year with those sisters who have gone before us where she will greet Sisters Mary Noel Walter and Consilia Meyer who left our class much too early through death, and Sister Elizabeth vonTersch who died this summer.

Although Brigid’s death may seem untimely, it was almost as though she knew what we did not. When she came into the Expo center for the Night of Dreams, she came immediately to the registration table and handed me an enclosed note which I tucked away.

At the conclusion of the evening Sister Anne shared the shocking news of Brigid’s death with everyone present. Immediately I opened the envelope and read what Brigid had written on a get well note, "This is a much belated greeting. I hope that by this time you are flying high with jubilant colors.”

But it was she who would be flying high with jubilant colors, where in heaven a voice was saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all you who fear him, small and great....Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory.” (Rev. 19: 2a, 5-7)

Brigid came to our big celebration with anticipation, but took early leave of our Night of Dreams to join the heavenly homecoming where no one is stranger, and all are held in the loving embrace of God.

And so we bid Brigid farewell, knowing that she does remain in memory and in spirit.