Living the Faith: Norrine Brown

IPSWICH -- Every morning, rain or shine, Norrine Brown can be found at Our Lady of Hope Church, awaiting her daily encounter with Jesus Christ.

“Being a daily communicant is very, very important for me, you see,” she stated. “Mass is the highlight of my day.”

Brown praised her pastor, Father John Kiley, calling him “a real blessing to our parish.”

“Father Kiley is a very excellent homilist. He is very enlightening and inspirational, and warm,” she added.

Brown, 81, has seen many wonderful pastors during her years as a parishioner at Our Lady of Hope. In fact, she said with a smile, she has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Hope since before it was a parish.

Originally a parishioner of St. Joseph’s, the parish merged with two other Ipswich parishes 10 years ago -- St. Stanislaus, a Polish national parish, and, Sacred Heart a French national parish.

At the time of the merger the named was changed, “to help everyone to realize this was our parish now,” Brown explained.

Brown believes the name of the parish is very significant. “We are a people who are full of hope,” she said, noting that since the merge there is “a lot of new energy and much more participation” than before.

Brown herself admitted that when she first became a parishioner in the 1960s she was not very involved in parish life other than attending weekly Mass with her husband, Pierce Brown, and their eight children.

That all changed 20 years ago, when Brown had what she described as “an inner spiritual reawakening.”

“That was a very important time in my spiritual life” she recalled.

She began teaching middle school and high school religious education classes and became involved in the Catholic Women’s Club in her parish. In addition, Brown became a lector and an extraordinary minister of Communion. She continues to be involved in all these activities today.

“My faith is such an important part of my life,” she said thoughtfully. “I don’t know how I’d cope without it. I don’t know how people cope without it.”

A cradle Catholic, Brown credits the Sisters of Notre Dame for instilling a love for the Church in her. As a child, Brown attended Notre Dame Academy, a boarding school in Tyngsboro.

“I was really blessed by having the opportunity to go there,” she said. “I thank my mother for having sent me to the Sisters of Notre Dame. I got my foundation there.”