Sister Agnes Eileen Bracken, 91, teacher

May 03, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Sister Agnes Eileen Bracken, a Franciscan sister who taught in Baltimore for 57 years, died April 26 of stroke complications at her order's motherhouse in Aston, Pa. She was 91.

Born Mary Elizabeth Bracken in Baltimore and raised on Maryland Avenue in Charles Village, she won the gold and silver academic medals at the old Mount St. Agnes High School in 1930.

Her father, court stenographer William Jerome Bracken, did not want her to enter the religious life. She waited a year, then she joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia in 1931 and took her name Agnes Eileen. She earned a bachelor's degree through many years of summer school at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg.

Sister Agnes Eileen began her teaching career at Immaculate Conception Parochial School in Towson in 1933. She was later assigned to St. Joseph in Fullerton and St. Vincent de Paul in downtown Baltimore, where she taught from 1938 to 1944.

From 1944 to 1964 she was at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Essex. For much of that time she was mother superior of the convent, principal of the elementary school, an eighth-grade teacher and the adjoining church's organist. Family members said she regularly played for weddings and funerals. She also taught piano.

"She was studious and was always interested in being a nun," said her brother, Eugene E. Bracken, a retired Navy officer who lives in Virginia Beach, Va. "She was extremely patient and gentle. She tutored the special needs of her pupils. She still had students she taught visit her at the retirement home."

After her retirement as a classroom teacher at age 65, she served for 10 years at St. Katharine of Siena School in East Baltimore. She spent 40-minute periods doing remedial work with students who needed help.

She tutored students at Shrine of the Little Flower Parish in the Belair-Edison section of Northeast Baltimore until she was 85.

"She was loved as a teacher in her 57 years in Baltimore," said Sister Ann Marie Slavin, a fellow member of the order, who lives in Aston. "She was a quiet woman, unassuming, who had a great affection for all her nieces and nephews."

"She remembered every important event in her numerous relatives' lives with a personal letter," said her niece Mary Neale of Bare Hills in Baltimore County. "She was a good letter writer. Even this past Christmas, as her eyesight was failing, I helped her address her correspondence."

Three years ago, she moved to her order's retirement community in Aston, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Thursday.

In addition to her brother, Sister Agnes Eileen is survived by two other brothers, William Jerome Bracken of Catonsville and Thomas E. Bracken of Baltimore; two sisters, Eileen B. Caslow of Baltimore and Kathleen Bracken Bedard of Silver Spring; and 47 nieces and nephews.

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