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Remembrance of the Life of Loretto Co-member Patty Brush

Posted on February 11, 2024, by Eleanor Craig SL

Patty Brush CoL
Feb. 10, 1941 – Feb. 11, 2024

Loretto Co-member Margaret Patricia “Patty” Brush died Feb. 11 at age 83 at Loretto Living Center in Nerinx, Ky. As Patty Batton, she entered the Loretto novitiate in 1958, leaving just before first vows. In 1966, Patty married John Brush, with whom she had three children. In the 1990s, following John’s death, Patty accepted the invitation of her novitiate and other Loretto friends to reconnect with the Community. She became a co-member in 2004 and for a decade served the Loretto Community in Kansas City, Mo., as health care contact and hostess of Community Group #16.

Patty wrote a lovely and lengthy autobiography at the time she applied for Loretto co-membership in 2004. The following is a portion of that autobiography. Patty begins her life story this way:

“I made my grand entry into this life on Feb. 10, 1941, at St. Joseph Hospital, Kansas City Mo. My parents were James Stephen Batton and Emma Mae Prussing. Bob, my older brother, was not too sure about this tiny pink bundle. Because of WWII, mother and dad moved to a small house in Northeast Kansas City. Dad was afraid he would be called up and wanted mother to be close to church, schools and stores. As it turned out dad was not called up because he worked at Sheffield Steel Co.

“During our years of growing up – my brother Bob and younger siblings Mary Agnes, Helen and Allen – my dad’s mother, Mary Batton, lived with us. Grandma came from Ireland when she was 13 years old and told us stories of Ireland. All five of us attended Holy Cross Church and parochial school where Sisters of Mercy of Omaha taught. Three sisters come to mind, who planted in me the first seeds of desire to teach and to enter religious life. [I had two] best friends in grade school; even though we went to different high schools, we have stayed friends.

“September of 1954, I entered Loretto Academy, not knowing a soul. I met my best friend, Virginia, in the first week. The first sister I met was Sister Anton. She assured me that I would be just fine. My four years at Loretto were a blessing [because those years] were not a happy time for us at home. Sisters Felician, Ellen Patricia and Ann Monica were my anchors. With their loving care I made it to graduation. Sister Felician had me for all four years in Home Economics. Under her loving care sewing became one of my passions. Even today when I pick up a pattern and start cutting, I pray to her and thank her for the care. Each sister at Loretto treated me with loving care and patience. They continued nurturing my desire to teach and to (possibly) enter religious life.

“September of 1958, I boarded a train along with Joann Malone and Barbara Wedow for Louisville, Ky. Our lives were changing. Life at the Motherhouse was challenging. A month before I was to receive the black veil, I decided to return home. This decision was not easy to make. After three months of prayer, I approached Sister Helen Jean for guidance. With Mother Luke’s blessing, I returned home. In the three years away from home I had grown and developed into my own person – a person my family did not know any more. New challenges had to be faced. I wanted to teach and go to night school, but I did not have a car and it wasn’t feasible to travel by bus at night. I took a job at First National Bank and the dream of education slowly faded. But my life was going to make a change again.

“I was followed to work one morning by a man in a red car. A week passed and the same gentleman came by the house to look me up. John Brush had re-entered my life. We had gone to grade school together but lost contact. He had been in the Navy for four years. Our courtship began and six months later we married. Five years after we married our first child, Stephen was born. [Then in quick succession, Christine and Sheila followed.] When Sheila started kindergarten, I started working part time at the parish office. Our life had both ups and downs.

“In 1995 John and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary on June 18. [That same day] I put him in the hospital. He died of a brain stem tumor on July 12. I had lost my best friend and life companion. Our marriage was formed on the premise that we were to help each other reach our highest potential in life and we met that goal. He was a great and loving father.

“These were the hardest years for me. Both of my parents died within two years of John. Yet, I know if I had not had a strong faith and been loved, I would not have recognized the blessings God poured on my life. I was able to enjoy retirement and my two wonderful granddaughters.

“My passion for children and sewing continued. And my love for the Loretto Community grew more each day [until finally I accepted Denise Ann Clifford’s urging to request comembership.] Since becoming a co-member in 2004 and moving to the Loretto Living Center in 2020, Patty has said more than once, “It is the love and care that the Sisters of Loretto have poured out that have helped me through my life.”

Patty’s daughters and their families visited Patty often at the Motherhouse until her death. Her memorial service took place Feb. 16 in the Loretto Motherhouse chapel.

Please keep Patty, her family and all her loved ones in your prayers. May she rest in peace.

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Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. She recently retired, but still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.

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