We remember….Jean Browne OSU


A year ago our Ursuline family was shattered by the news of the sudden death of one of our youngest Irish sisters, Jean Browne. Jean was a gentle woman of great firmness and commitment. Sister, friend, colleague, teacher, Jean left a gap, a hole, a loss in many hearts and  at many levels.

Born in Midleton in 1961 where she grew up and was educated, she left Cork for Sligo in 1979 for her first encounter with Ursulines when she began her Home Economics studies in St. Angela’s College, Lough Gill. She made many friends in college with whom she remained in close contact all her life. During her time in St. Angela’s her spiritual search was nourished by membership of the Christian Life Community. Shortly after she got her B.ED degree she joined our noviciate in 1983 and participated in an inter-congregational spiritual year in 84-85. Following her profession in 1986 she was missioned back to her native Cork. She began teaching Home Economics in our secondary school in Blackrock where she served for almost 30 years – as teacher and more recently as principal until her untimely death. Deeply committed to continual professional development during her career, she completed a Diploma in Catechetics,  M.ED programmes with University College Cork and University of Hull and a Post-graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership with Maynooth University. She loved teaching and she always encouraged students to achieve their full potential in every sphere. Her pupils found her ‘sound’, the ‘nicest nun in the whole school’, ‘a lovely, kind warm lady’, ‘a truly lovely person and an inspirational principal’. Her professional colleagues held her in high esteem, appreciating her value-based judgement.

Jean made final profession to the Ursuline way of life in September 1992 and she had tremendous commitment to the Congregation. As well as serving in local and central leadership she was a member of the vocations and education commissions where she brought energy and vision. Her spirit was deeply attuned to God and to our foundress Angela Merici whose words were always in her heart and often on her lips. Following a year’s formation and training in Chicago, she found great joy accompanying young women as they discerned a way of life. She garnered great support from her community when women joined them for evenings and weekends.

Jean was an independent and, in whatever she was doing, she would listen deeply, seeking for consensus and a positive way forward. Inclusive by nature, she was best known to many as a woman of peace in whom they could trust.  She was hard working and efficient and spared nothing in working to make Ursuline Secondary School a good environment for learning. However she did know how to relax and was very creative in finding ways of renewing her energies including membership of toastmasters and her love of travel where she could explore her love of nature. Jean also loved theatre and film and had a wide range of musical tastes!  Of course we cannot  forget her great enjoyment of modern technology – how she loved her ipad and was so quick to share the wonder of it and all it could reveal.

The Blackrock community was sustained by the tremendous outflow of sympathy and care from family friends, colleagues, past pupils and many others in the days, weeks and months following Jean’s death, which was much appreciated. Indeed that care continues and its support is unquantifiable. As we come to Jean’s first anniversary we remember those who loved her and sorely miss her presence particularly her sisters, Shiela, Eithne and Netta, her community, friends, colleagues and pupils.

Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.