SISTER KATHLEEN BRISBOE
Sister Kathleen Brisboe spent the last twenty-nine years in California. When she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1992, she was interviewed for an article in the Monterey Diocesan newspaper, The Observer. One of the questions concerned her future plans. She answered:
As highlights of her sixty years as an Adrian Dominican, she listed:
She did see and celebrate her Double Diamond Jubilee in 2002. But death came to her in June 2006 at Dominican Santa Cruz Hospital. She died on Holy Trinity Sunday, and a memorial Mass was held for her at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz on June 13. She had lived to the age of ninety-two, a long and fruitful life — seventy-four of those years in the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Kathleen was born on February 6, 1914, in Grayling, Michigan, to Thomas Frederick and Catherine (Sullivan) Brisboe. They christened her Kathleen Frances. She was one of four children, three daughters and a son.
Thomas Brisboe was from Bay City, Michigan, and came from a French heritage. He worked for the Michigan Central Railroad, and provided a good life for his family. Catherine Sullivan, of Irish ancestry, was originally from Canada, and had immigrated to Michigan. There the two met, married, and settled in Grayling. Both were dedicated Catholics.
By the time Kathleen had reached school age, her parents had moved the family to Owosso. There she began her education in 1921 at St. Paul School with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Two years later the family moved to Lansing, and she continued her education through grade and three years of high school at St. Mary School. She finished her high school education at St. Joseph Academy in Adrian.
On September 25, 1932, Kathleen arrived in Adrian, and accepted the postulant’s veil from Mother Augustine Walsh. Within a short time she was on the train for Chicago, where for that school year she taught third grade at St. Carthage School, supervised by an experienced teacher.
She and her group received the habit and their religious names on August 8, 1933. Kathleen was allowed to keep her own name. From that date until the 1970s, she was known as Sister Marie Kathleen. On August 9, 1934, she professed her first vows.
For the first eight years after profession, she taught middle grade and junior high students in Detroit: four years at St. Gabriel and four years at St. Ambrose. She then taught on the primary level for a year at St. James in Maywood, Illinois. Returning to Michigan, she taught junior high students for eight years at St. Paul in Grosse Pointe and for a year at Queen of the Miraculous Medal in Jackson.
Beginning with 1932, she taught eighth grade for eight years at St. Rita School in Chicago, then was brought back to Michigan and served for a second time at St. Joseph in Maybee, this time as principal of the school and superior of the sisters. When her successful six-year term ended, she was transferred to St. Joseph in Wyandotte, Michigan, for a year, then sent back to Illinois as eighth-grade teacher at Our Lady of Knock School in Calumet City. During these years, there were periods of sadness for her and her siblings when their mother died in March 1957 and their father, in February 1965.
After three years in Calumet City, she again became principal at Christ the King School in Des Moines, Iowa. Two years later, she accepted the position of principal at St. Colette School in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, for five years. At the wake in Adrian, Sister Martin Mary Ryan remembered:
In 1977, Sister Kathleen went to California and taught on the junior high level at St. Catherine of Siena School in Reseda. In an interview, Sister Marie Noreen Nolan explained how this came about.
After six years at St. Catherine, Sister Kathleen accepted a position as junior high teacher at Our Lady of Grace in Encino. Sister Marie Noreen also taught there. Sister Kathleen remained there for two years; then transferred to St. Cyril of Jerusalem School, also in Encino, for a year.
In 1986, Sister Kathleen was seventy-two years of age and in poor health. She deemed it time to leave the classroom. For two years she lived in an apartment in Encino, a medical sabbatical during which she received treatment. In 1988, with improved health, she moved into Dominican Oaks in Santa Cruz. In the Santa Cruz News for October 4, 1990, an advertisement for Dominican Oaks featured a large picture of Sister Kathleen, and quoted her:
Sister Marie Noreen said:
Sister Carol Louise Hiller had also lived at Villa Serra, and had come to know Sister Kathleen well. In an interview, she said:
A wake-remembrance service was held for Sister Kathleen on June 15 in St. Catherine Chapel. Sister Catherine Olds, Chapter Prioress of the Dominican West Mission Chapter, greeted those who had assembled to bid Sister Kathleen farewell. She extended sympathy to Sister Kathleen’s grandniece Julie and her husband Tom, and the many Dominican friends who were present. Sister Catherine summarized Sister Kathleen’s life and ministry, and concluded:
Sister Kathleen’s cousin, Sister Kathleen Donnelly, who is recovering from illness in Miami, Florida, sent a fax. She wrote in part:
Sister Marie Noreen said:
Sister Martin Mary Ryan remembered:
Sister Kathleen’s funeral liturgy took place on June 16. Father Roland Calvert, OSFS, was the presider, and Sister Catherine Olds was the homilist. In addition to Sister’s grandniece Julie, her nephew-in-law Bob and grandniece Cathy were present. Sister was very close to her niece Sally, Bob’s wife.
God took Sister Kathleen to eternity on June 11, 2006. There she is reunited with all the loved ones who have preceded her, and is free of all limitations.