"Have courage and confidence in God."
-St. Julie Billiart
Sister Marietta Brown is a native of Boston, Mass. who received her early education in public school, then happily enrolled in Cardinal Cushing High School in South Boston. Here she met our sisters and it did not take her long to fall in love with St. Julie. Her vocation was fostered by her contacts and after graduation she entered the novitiate in Waltham, Mass. in 1961, taking the name Sister Marietta Thomas.
Upon entering the convent, she didn't know she was going to be a teacher, but soon found she was good at it and loved it—which she attributes to great mentors: "Professors from Emmanuel College would come to us to teach us how to be a teachers." She continued her education at Emmanuel College, other local colleges where she earned her Master's degree, and then on to Northeast Montessori Teacher Training School.
Sister began her ministry life teaching in various parish schools in the greater Boston area then branched out to other areas in the United States and also worldwide. She served as Principal of St. Peter Claver School in Illinois and during summers, taught catechetics in Massachusetts, Maine, West Virginia, Alabama, and California. She also did teacher training on Ebeye Island, one of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. She did a stint in the SNDdeN Development Office where she became interested in the missions.
This took her to Kroonstad, South Africa, where she spent eight years teaching at another St. Peter Claver School. Her time in South Africa was very rich; she was grateful that her previous ministries had prepared her to make a contribution to the school, and had many interesting and profound experiences with the learners and with African Sisters. A wonderful opportunity allowed her to accompany students on a trip to a national game reserve.
In 2005, Sister Marietta went to Gallup, New Mexico, where she initially served as a reading specialist at St. Bonaventure Indian School. She served there for thirteen years working with pre-school children through 8th grade, also serving as an administrator and vice principal during that time. Sister Marietta found that life experiences and cultural enrichment with the Navajo people gave her much more than she could ever give them. She found it very hard to leave that ministry but found peace knowing that "I'm leaving it in the hand of a Navajo."
Sister continues ministry as a member of the board of directors for St. Patrick School & Educational Center; she tutors adults seeking citizenship, and does catechetics via Zoom lessons for the "young and not so young."
Throughout her life as a sister and as a teacher, Sister Marietta has been inspired by the words of St. Julie, "Have courage and confidence in God."