Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
In a true Franciscan spirit, Sister Mary Elizabeth Brya echoed the message of St. Francis of Assisi in her reflection on God’s presence in creation. “No matter how much we love God, God loves us more.”
For those who have visited the Motherhouse Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, the grounds are inspirational: mature trees, open spaces, and a calming stillness. As a child, Mary Elizabeth Brya was familiar with this Motherhouse and its peacefulness. Her family visited their aunt, Sister Lois McGuire, who was a Hospital Sister, and who gave the young Mary Elizabeth some reading material about the Hospital Sisters. “I was impressed with their work here in the USA and China and wanted to be part of their Community,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. When it was time to enter religious life, she did not mind the rules because her childhood was regulated, and she was familiar with daily routines.
Born on February 25, 1921 in Decatur, IL, Sister Mary Elizabeth’s gentle way is evident through her body language. The sparkle in her eye comes from a loving heart that served her religious community as a nurse in Chippewa Falls, WI; Washington, MO; Effingham, Springfield, and Highland, IL. In addition, she also ministered at the Motherhouse in occupational and physical therapy with the sisters. After graduating high school in May 1939, she entered religious life on September 8. She made her First Profession on June 13, 1942 and later graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing.
While her current ministry is far from the hospital setting, it includes prayer and adoration for those who continue to care for those in need. Her prayer time in the Adoration Chapel is an opportunity to give thanks to God and to listen to God’s voice. “What I would ask of those who read this story is to remember that God is always there for us. It’s easy to remember God’s presence in the joyful times, but it also holds true in the most difficult times of our lives. God is always there,” she concluded.