Brow, Sr. M. Andre
Congregational Register No. 532
First Profession 08.09.1957
Died: 01.02.2004 Aged: 69 years
Mary Ann Brow, the eldest daughter of seven children, grew up in Braintree, Massachusetts, USA. She spent much of her early life on bed-rest, recovering from four bouts of rheumatic fever. During this period she dreamed of working with children and occupied herself by sketching pictures of children of different nationalities. After finishing high school, she trained as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Cambridge, MA, before entering MMM in 1955 and taking the name Sr. M. André.
Sr. André spent some months in Ireland following initial formation before being assigned to Nigeria. She worked in Ikot Ekpene for four years as home Sister before returning to the USA in 1962 because of the terminal illness of her father.
In 1965, Sr. André returned to Nigeria, working in Abakaliki and Ndubia. During the Biafran War Sr. André was living and working in the war zone. While working in the rehabilitation unit in the leprosy settlement, she realised that she needed further training for this work, and returned to the USA in 1968 to study occupational therapy. After completing her training, André was assigned to Kataboi in the Turkana Desert, Kenya. There she organised a rehabilitation centre for persons with polio and a women's self-help group and established a pre-nursery school for children. The Turkana named her Etir, which is a tall tree common to the area. This image of a majestic tree grounded in the earth was considered most appropriate by those who knew and loved her.
Sr. André's long battle with cancer began in 1978, but it did not stop her missionary spirit. In 1983 she studied at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago, after which she served as vocation and retreat directress in the East Africa Zone. She returned to the USA in 1988 after more cancer was diagnosed. Following surgery and recovery she continued to work with women in a programme called WINGS, in home nursing for the elderly, and finally as a residential supervisor at a community centre.
Throughout her life she continued to enjoy easy relationships with children, who sought her company. As her illness progressed, she did her best to live life to the fullest possible. During her last eight years, André lived inter-congregationally with Sr. Judy, a Sister of St. Louis, who said André was a "support, listening ear, counselor and a true example of empathy".
Sr. André had a gentle personality, with a warm laugh, and the ability to live in the moment. She is remembered as a woman of "deep faith, joy and gratitude". She is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery on Chicago's south side.