In the history of the Institute at this period we find chronicled the death of twenty-five cherished members, and on the evening of September 20, 1903, cold death again invaded the ranks of our religious family and took from us one whom the Providence Community may proudly designate our much-lamented Sr. M. Rose of Lima.
Mary Brickley, born in Percy, Northumberland Co., May 28, 1872, was an only and dearly loved daughter of Catholic parents who strove to imbue her youthful mind with those principles which are the foundation of all solid virtue and to school her heart in that firm and fearless performance of duty without which there can be no strength of character. These paternal counsels found a fertile soil in her soul and she grew strong in faith, piety and submission to the Divine Will. Speedily the time came when this treasured child felt called to the religious life and despite the charm that lingers around a happy country home and the affection of indulgent parents and devoted brothers she generously severed the link which nature had so closely riveted and entered the Novitiate on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1894.
With docility and exactitude, the fervent postulant made use of all the means that the Novitiate places at the disposal of souls for advancement in virtue, consequently her progress was more than ordinary. Through a love of knowledge and a spirit of industry, she had acquired a good common school education, a proficiency in music, in painting and needle-work, which accomplishments made her a very desirable acquisition to the Community.
The beautiful title of ‘Rose of Lima’ was given her at profession and this divine alliance contracted with Jesus, the spouse of her soul, filled her pure heart with intense joy. It was now evident that having abandoned the world without regret she attached herself wholly to God. She was modest, prudent and assiduous in prayer. Her devotion to our Immaculate Mother was admirable, she often spoke of the Blessed Virgin with a charm that inspired devotion and seldom did she begin any important duty without invoking her assistance.
Sr. M. Rose of Lima loved her Community and laboured earnestly for its interests. Her charity for her Sisters was noble in its expression and this was truly demonstrated in her willingness to alleviate physical pain or console and help those who were over-burdened and weary. Having completed her Novice ship she was appointed to St. Vincent de Paul Hospital, Brockville and it was while labouring among the sick and suffering that she gave evidence of possessing many noble qualities. Unquestioning obedience to the behests of Superiors and through observance of rule enabled this devoted servant of the poor to perform every duty with great purity of intention. Her enthusiastic nature prompted her to attempt many devices by which advanced methods of Hospital management might be introduced. Fearless of displaying ignorance or yielding to human respect, she unhesitatingly consulted member of the Medical Staff relative to helps and hints in pharmacology and the operating department, attaining thereby noted success in both, without however, neglecting in the slightest degree the humbler and ordinary duties.
In September 1901 she was appointed Secretary at that mission which office was made vacant by the withdrawal of our estimable and ever lamented Sr. M. Patrick whose shattered health visibly warned the Community that the death seal was set on a young and beautiful life. In this position Sr. M. Rose of Lima studied to adorn her mind with useful knowledge and by her diligence and desire for perfection she improved the system of book keeping in that Institution. She most carefully avoided useless visits and conversation, always regarding time too precious to be thus idly squandered. It was particularly in trying circumstances that she gave good example, ever counselling her companions to be peaceful and silent under real or imaginary injustice. These and many other noble characteristics gave her an influence over others and endeared her to the Sisters of this Institute.
So energetic and industrious a spirit was sadly clouded by the fear that ill-health would soon prove an obstacle to her usefulness and with keen sorrow Superiors and physicians saw that there was no hope of saving her from hereditary consumption which had already carried off other members of her family. In February 1903 she left the Brockville mission to enter upon the annual retreat at Kingston and to all it was apparent that her return to the Mother House was but a prelude to an early departure to her Heavenly Father’s home. Alas! who could have foreseen that seven months later the great reaper would cut the thread of so valuable a life! The loss was peculiarly felt by the Local Superior who for several years was comforted and aided in her difficult administration by Sister’s activity, discretion and well-balanced judgment, but as a common experience in our Institute when any person or thing appears indispensable God removes the support as if to show that it is His strong right hand that sustains His own work.
Few, if any of our loved Sisters in their last illness had the many spiritual supports that this privileged soul enjoyed, neither was she denied the least material comfort that the community could bestow on a suffering member. The attendance of a special physician was granted her by whose order she was dispensed from the ordinary subjection of the infirmary and its regulations, spending her days and nights in a tent erected to give her the benefit of the open air.
During the weary months and painful nights there was no impatience, no unreasonable fear of death or judgment, or any of those realities that the best of us may well fear. Those who watched her suffering were edified and derived many lessons in uprightness and sincerity. Conscious and prayerful she received holy Communion for the last time at 3 p.m. Tuesday and at 7 o’clock surrounded by the Superior Sisters who knelt in fervent prayer death came gently, peacefully to this beautiful virgin soul. In life she loved us and in death let us not be unmindful of her in our supplications to the Father of Mercies.