Sister Mary Edwardine Brown, age 87, died peacefully on February 2, 2021 at McAuley Hall Health Care Center, Watchung, NJ. The youngest of nine children born to George and Marie Brown in Montclair, New Jersey, she was baptized Elizabeth Anne and known affectionately as Betty Brown. Betty was a member of one of the first classes at Holy Cross School in Rumson, NJ and continued her education at Red Bank Catholic High School where she was deeply involved in academics and extra-curricular activities. Inspired by the community of sisters who educated her, she entered the Sisters of Mercy in Watchung, NJ in 1952 after her high school graduation.
She began teaching first grade in St. Mary School, South Amboy and earned her degree at Georgian Court College (now University) in 1954. Over the next 40 years, she taught primary and intermediate grades in parish schools in Bernardsville, Sayreville, South Plainfield, Bound Brook, Piscataway, Red Bank and Hazlet. When a new ministry was initiated in Keansburg, she was invited to open St. Ann Parish Hansel and Gretel Pre-School. Her background now included courses in special education and years of experience with little children. Meeting a broad range of needs in the blue-collar community became one of the most challenging, fulfilling and joyful experiences of her life.
As her energetic and enthusiastic nature always did, she gravitated to joining activities including Mercy Associates, Christmas bazaar preparations, the community-sponsored golf classic and other local and community events. She relished community life, loved the sisters with whom she lived and admired the many ways they served the people experiencing poverty.
In her later years, Edwardine joined two sisters whose ministry was spiritual direction, retreats and programs in Mays Landing, New Jersey. Most recently, she transitioned to the retirement community at Mount Saint Mary where she continued to share her gift of hospitality with the local sisters and offer her enthusiasm and support for life “on the hill”.
Edwardine experienced great joy engaging all that life offered her and loved deeply the relationships that sustained her, especially her family and friends. The simplest pleasures in life brought her great joy. She loved to sit by the water – any body of water would do – and appreciate God’s gifts. What rivaled her love of nature was the love she held for her nieces and nephews (and to their children as well). She was more than an involved, dedicated aunt. She was a mentor, a teacher, a lifeguard, a storyteller, a mom, a grandma, a career counselor, a spiritual adviser, and an invaluable friend to each member of her family. She danced at each wedding, celebrated each birth, sang with gusto at each birthday, praised each accomplishment, and provided support at each funeral. These nieces and nephews now live in many places across the United States, but no matter their location, she always held each one close to her heart.
It was only recently, due to unexpected illness, that Edwardine moved to McAuley Hall Health Care Center where she died peacefully with her Mercy community.
Sister Edwardine is survived by many Sisters of Mercy and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be private for community and family members.
Memorial donations may be made to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, 1645 US Highway 22 West, Watchung, NJ 07069