We Remember Sister Catherine Browne, OP

Sister M. Catherine Browne, O.P.

Sister Catherine Browne, a Dominican Sister of San Rafael for 76 years, died peacefully at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent in the evening of September 9. She would have celebrated her 96th birthday in November.

The youngest of five siblings, Catherine Browne was born and raised in Vallejo.

She grew up in a family that always had close ties to Dominican priests and sisters. Two of her brothers married, one was a Maryknoll priest, and her sister was also a Dominican Sister of San Rafael.

Catherine attended St. Vincent Ferrer Elementary and High School, and often talked about the days when all of the students felt right at home visiting the convent adjacent to the school. She was a proud member of the high school class of 1939, and attended most of the reunions, keeping up with her classmates since graduation.

On the occasion of her 75th Jubilee in 2016, Sister Catherine shared, “When I entered the convent, it didn’t seem like a big decision. I felt like I was moving from one family to another, from a smaller family to a larger one.”

For thirty-five years Sister Catherine’s ministry was education in elementary schools throughout California. For many years she had additional responsibilities caring for boarding students at Dominican Convent School, Santa Catalina, and San Domenico. She cherished the years of interacting with them beyond the formal classroom setting. Sister Catherine was well-known and beloved for her gift of relationship, avidly following the news of students and their families from every school in which she taught.

In 1979, Sister Catherine moved to the convent in Reno, Nevada and for 16 years served as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital. She was inducted into the hospital staff Hall of Fame in 1990 for “relating with love and kindness to the patients, staff, and volunteers.”

When she returned to the Bay Area, Sister Catherine went to Livermore and joined Sister Joanna in ministry to St. Michael’s Parish, assisting with a grief support program. In 1999 she moved to San Anselmo and assisted in the San Domenico School alumni office.

Her later years were spent in San Rafael, assisting in the congregational archives, and most recently residing at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent. Wherever she lived, Sister Catherine was acknowledged for her deep appreciation of and contribution to community life.

Sister Catherine was preceded in death by her brothers, Daniel, Father Denis, and Jack, and her sister, Sister Joanna. She is survived by her beloved nieces and nephews, and by her Dominican Sisters.

A funeral Mass will take place on Monday, September 18 at 10:00 a.m.in the Gathering Space at Dominican Sisters Center, 1520 Grand Avenue in San Rafael. Burial will follow at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia.

Memorial gifts in honor of Sister Catherine may be made to the Retirement Fund, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Development Office, 1520 Grand Avenue, San Rafael CA 94901.