Thursday, April 23, 2020
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Prayers: 2 p.m.
Immediately followed by the Rite of Committal with Final Commendation, Our Lady of Peace Cemetery
A memorial Mass will be scheduled when possible.
Sister M. St. Brigid (Bromeling), CSC
(Hilda Margaret Bromeling)
September 1, 1916–April 22, 2o20
Word has been received of the death of Sister M. St. Brigid (Bromeling), CSC, who died at 8:14 a.m. on April 22, 2020, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister St. Brigid entered the Congregation from Eaton Rapids, Michigan, on August 1, 1941. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1944.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
When Hilda Bromeling applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross in May 1941, after graduating from Saint Mary’s College in 1940, her motivation was “to serve God and to remove the obstacles which hinder my perfection.” She was accepted into the Congregation and entered a few months later. Among her college classmates, Hilda was viewed as “the least likely to become a nun.” Yet, she spent over 75 years seeking perfection in charity as a consecrated woman religious as Sister Mary St. Brigid. There were obstacles along the way, whether due to her personal history or restless spirit. The last obstacle was rolled away on Wednesday of the second week of Easter. Her life has been perfected in death, completing her lifelong journey to seek the Lord to the ends of the Earth.
Bromeling was Hilda’s name by adoption. She was born in Woodlawn (now Aliquippa), Pennsylvania, September 1, 1916. Hilda was the youngest of eight children born to Czechoslovakian immigrants of well-to-do families, Joseph Neivelt and Irma (Erma) Malasko. When the children’s mother died, their father needed help raising the youngest siblings, one boy and two girls, as the rest were older or close to adulthood. Since no one was able to care for all three children as the father insisted, they were placed in “a home for adoption.” It is known that Merton and Margaret Blacker Bromeling adopted Hilda, “who was a very sweet child,” giving her every advantage, providing for an excellent education and extensive travel. In adulthood she called them her guardians. Both the Bromelings were deceased by 1951 when Sister St. Brigid was in her 30s. She remained close to her sister Elizabeth. Their mother, Erma, was remembered as being very religious and prayed as she was dying that her two little girls would be well taken care of.
Sister St. Brigid developed a very deep faith. At the end of her novitiate formation at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, she seriously considered entering a contemplative order instead of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. After counsel by her spiritual director and the Congregation’s superior general, she accepted God’s will and freely pronounced vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Two other times Sister felt called again to enter a monastery and twice more, her discernment led her to remain in Holy Cross.
Sister earned a master’s in theology in 1952 from Saint Mary’s School of Theology, Notre Dame, the first of its kind for Catholic women. Her first 28 years of ministry were mostly in elementary education in Utah, California, Indiana and Michigan, where she specialized in catechetics and methods of teaching. Mentored by the great Sister M. Hildegardis (Gettier) herself, Sister St. Brigid taught methods to young sisters preparing for the teaching ministry in the 1960s.
In her pursuit of perfection, Sister St. Brigid always wanted to be or do something more. Not only had she felt drawn to the sacrifice and silence of the contemplative life, she simultaneously felt compelled to throw herself into being a missionary in the new Holy Cross foundation in São Paulo, Brazil, where she taught at the Colégio Santa Maria from 1956 to 1961. Later, in 1971, having given two previous summers of service in the leper settlement of Kaulapapa on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, she managed to secure an extraordinary permission from the state’s Department of Health to live for only a year on the island, lest she develop the infectious Hansen’s disease herself. Her mission was to write for blind and handless lepers, visit them in their cottages, and read them the Bible and other books.
Upon advice of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Syracuse, New York, who trained her for this ministry and with whom she lived, Sister St. Brigid returned to Saint Mary’s in 1972 and gave service to the Congregation in various capacities for many more years. She retired to a fully contemplative life of prayer in 2000 at Saint Mary’s Convent, where she died the morning of April 22, 2020. Sister St. Brigid’s heart now rests in the Risen Lord for all eternity.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry with the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC