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Sister Brigid remembered for faith, family and Cardinals baseball

Sister Brigid remembered for faith, family and Cardinals baseball - (16-11-2015)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Brigid Riordan, OSB, passed away on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

She was born Patricia Ann on Aug. 30, 1936, in St. Louis to Joseph and Irene Sivadie Riordan. She was the youngest of seven children, six girls and one boy, and recalled her early years as a time full of love.

“We did not have much money to spare but always had enough food to eat and enjoyed pleasures together,” she said. “I always enjoyed being at home with my family and felt loved. My father died when I was in the eighth grade, and it was a big loss for all of us.”

She attended St. Ann Catholic School and graduated from Incarnate Word Academy. She was a shy girl who felt drawn to contemplative religious life during her high school years, but she took a position at the Standard Oil Company after graduation. She worked in the company’s credit office for almost seven years before she decided to answer her religious calling.

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration had two aspects that called to Patricia Ann: it was a contemplative order, and her sister, Joann, had entered the community in 1959. During a visit to the Clyde community in the fall of 1962, she made the decision to enter. 

“I had a special experience at prayer in the Clyde chapel that weekend, and it felt like the right place to be,” she said.

With the support of her family, she entered on Feb. 10, 1963. She made her first monastic profession on Sept. 18, 1965, taking the name Sister Brigid, and made final vows five years later. She had recently celebrated her 50th jubilee of first profession, which was a deep source of joy and gratitude for her.

Because Sr. Brigid had entered at the age of 26, people back then would have said she entered late in life. Her one profession companion was also older, and the two helped each other through the bumps and hurdles of postulancy and novitiate. She remained conscious of being of service to other older postulants as they arrived, and some of the older Sisters mentioned that Sr. Brigid was regularly responsive and sensitive to them.

During her years in community, Sr. Brigid served in many roles. She was a portress, worked in the printery, the kitchen, in bookkeeping, the correspondence department and maintenance.

“I have lived through many changes,” she said. “It is amazing to look back on where we were as a community when I entered and where we are today. There have been many struggles, sufferings and joys.”

After she moved to Clyde in 2005, she inspected concelebrant breads in the altar bread department. Sisters who worked with her commented on how punctual and aware of time she was, and that she was careful to balance work with prayer, other community activities and relationships.

The latter were especially important to her. She would spend hours on Sunday afternoons talking with a Sister friend about community issues and about their families. She frequently visited the elder Sisters at Our Lady of Rickenbach.

In her 50 years of profession, she was a member of the BSPA communities in Tucson, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; San Diego; St. Louis; Clyde and Dayton, Wyoming.

She also spent three months at the Benedictine Sisters' ashram-monastery in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, when pipes were being replaced in St. Louis and appreciated the teachings of speakers and retreat directors on the Eastern forms of prayer and understanding of God. Some years after that she spent almost a year at the Sisters’ monastery in Dayton.

A chance to attend the Benedictine Renewal Program in Rome in 2004 offered a wonderful opportunity to meet Benedictine sisters from around the world and visit places related to the history of the Benedictine order. After the program finished, she traveled to Maria Rickenbach in Switzerland, the Benedictine Sisters’ founding monastery.

“This was a very wonderful experience for me,” she said. “Just being there to walk around and pray with the sisters was enriching.”

The St. Louis Cardinals, had they known of her dedication, should have paid her for her enthusiasm, single-team loyalty and, perhaps, prayer.  For her, it was the Cardinals and none other.

Sr. Brigid especially valued the community’s monastic way of life and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

“I appreciate our emphasis on the adoration aspect rather than on the perpetual aspect. The Church’s emphasis on the Eucharist as the communal uniting force in our lives gives our life importance and value,” she once said. “We need a little bit of both, the quiet times of adoration and the giving times of service.”

She lived this out with a quiet joy and generous willingness to help out in community.

Death came very suddenly for Sr. Brigid. She suffered a massive stroke the evening before her death on Nov. 13, which occurred at the hospital with her prioress, Sister Rita Clair Dohn, OSB, praying with her. 

Sr. Brigid is survived by her sisters, Joann and Constance, several nieces and her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial at our Mt. Calvary Cemetery were on Nov. 16, 2015, in Clyde.