Renowned Catholic Sister, Mary Laurene Browne, OSF, an educator and president of Stella Maris Polytechnique in Monrovia, turns 72 today Thursday, February 26.
She told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that she is dedicating her 72nd birth anniversary to God, family and community members, but particularly to the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters, where she achieved the sisterhood.
Today’s celebration, according to her, promises to be low key, meaning not too many activities. “I just want to sit with family, congregation members and friends to thank God Almighty for keeping me safe and sound to date, having gone through the turmoil of the Liberian civil war.”
Born in 1943 in Gadetarbo Chiefdom, Maryland County, Little Mary, as she used to be called by her parents who predeceased her, first attended the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Parish Day School.
Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. David A.T. Browne and Elizabeth Toe had then divorced when she was only six.
“When I completed my first class at the AME Parish Day School, I later enrolled at Our Lady of Fatima High School in Harper, Maryland County. I then travelled to the United States of America after finishing Our Lady of Fatima High School and attended Alvernia College (now university),” Sister Mary Laurene told the Daily Observer at her Capitol Hill office in Monrovia.
Upon completion of her college education at Alvernia, she entered the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters Convent in Reading, Pennsylvania. That was about 51 years ago, and she has remained faithful as a full time Catholic Sister up to the present.
What is amazing about Sister Mary Laurene Browne is that at age 72, she is strong, energetic, focused and devoted as she goes about doing her daily routine as president of the Catholic-run Stella Maris Polytechnique and proprietor of Spiritan Demonstration School.
She says, “At age 72, I remain strong, so I give all to God who preserves me for His purpose, for which I am grateful.”
She recalled that during the 14-year Liberian civil crisis, “things became very difficult psychologically, socially, economically, etc, but thanks to God, He has been so good to me.”
Dream for Country’s Education
As a renowned educator, Sister Mary Laurene Browne, holds the view that the improvement of Liberia’s education sector requires the collective efforts of all, irrespective of status.
“I may be right or wrong, but I believe that the education system of this country will improve when most Liberians recognized that formal education is important. I don’t think that is happening because all of us need to make the sacrifice, and until that is done, we will continue to be at the level where we are, because this is not only the responsibility of authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE), but everybody’s business, including the government.”
The Catholic Sister believes that the will is lacking on the part of Liberians to embrace education, “because the generation became mature during the war years without obtaining any kind of formal education. So all of us have to take the responsibility to improve the sector.”
She has, meanwhile, called for the continuation of the anti-Ebola preventive measures instituted by health authorities across the country and at the campuses of the various schools that are now actively functioning.
By that, she believes that Liberia will eventually win the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
“My appeal is that all Liberians, including the foreign residents, continue to abide by the guidelines set by health authorities in the fight against the EVD so that we may live because the disease is so dangerous and deadly.”