Sister Louis Marie was born Mary Elizabeth Brett in County Sligo, Ireland in 1926. Known as ‘May’, she attended her early education in Tubbercurry, County Sligo. She then helped on the family farm.
At the age of twenty-four she moved to Dublin and worked for three years as a governess for a Jewish family. When their mother died, she returned home to care for her younger siblings and look after the farm housekeeping.
As an active member of the Legion of Mary, she was inspired by the work of Edel Quinn in Africa and by the writings of Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, especially his treatise on True Devotion to Mary. After she joined MMM in 1955 she chose his name at her reception.
After profession Sister Louis Marie did general nurse training, completing this in 1960. She then did a commercial course. In 1964 she was assigned to Nigeria and worked in Abakaliki for three years as a secretary. After training in hospital administration in Dublin, she returned to Nigeria, this time to Afikpo, where she was hospital secretary for nine years and also served in MMM leadership.
Louis Marie returned to Ireland in 1980. She was local bursar in Drogheda and relieved Sisters in various departments for two years. In June 1982, she was assigned to Ondo, Nigeria, where she was once again hospital secretary and Sister-in-charge. She was very happy in Nigeria and she loved the people.
In 1984 she returned to Drogheda, where she was again local bursar. Apart from several months at Rosedale Residential Home in Kilmacow, Louis Marie was based in our Motherhouse. She was a driver for the Beechgrove house for four years. In 1992 she was appointed assistant to the regional bursar and was also local bursar. Her responsibilities included purchasing supplies, attending to maintenance and repairs, and generally ensuring the smooth running of the house. In her dealings with people she always remembered the words of Saint Benedict: ‘If you cannot give anything, give a kind word.’
After ‘retiring’ in 2010 at the age of eighty-four, she took up a new role as head of the stamp department, in which she took a great interest. Many of our senior Sisters work every morning in this fund-raising area, preparing used stamps for sale. Louis and another Sister went regularly to exhibitions in Dublin to get the best prices for the stamps. Potential buyers also came to Drogheda and she developed a relationship with them.
Louis was artistic and energetic. She made greeting cards using flower petals and sold them as a contribution to her beloved missions. Members of her Fatima Community said that she was often seen ‘flying around’ the house with her watering can, lovingly tending the many plants around the Motherhouse. She loved nature and walked around the garden each day saying the Rosary. She was very close to her family, who visited her frequently and called her ‘Sister Nun’!
Sister Louis Marie became ill in February 2018 and needed major surgery. She initially moved from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to Aras Mhuire for nursing care. She returned to the Motherhouse but remained unwell. She died peacefully on Sunday, 3 June 2018.
Father John McAlinden, one of the hospital chaplains, led the celebration of her funeral Mass. Her nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews participated fully. Her seven-year-old grand-niece, Sarah Mai, who had recently received her First Holy Communion, sang the Alleluia verse beautifully.
We miss Louis Marie but are happy that she is at peace, united with the deceased members of the Brett and MMM families, and with the God whom she served so well all her life.