Personal Reflections of Monica Brown

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My faith and sense of God have been shaped and formed by my family and extended family, as well as through my schooling and religious formation in the Benedictine tradition, with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. This tradition continues to enrich my life now through my commitment as an Oblate of the Good Samaritan Congregation.

My mother, Mary Brown, was truly the embodiment of Christian virtue. She lived the Gospel values by walking the extra mile, turning the other cheek, feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger, the lonely and the sick. She stretched our hearts as a family beyond comfort and selfishness.

From a young age, I was inspired by my mother's outreach and generous self-giving. She has been the inspiration of my ministry and so it was fitting that we establish a foundation in her name. As a registered charity, the Mary Brown Memorial Foundation, through the ministry of Emmaus Productions, honours my mother's amazing spirit and continues her good works.

My father, Francis Brown, has also been a huge influence in my life and ministry. Dad quietly, faithfully supported Mum in all she did. I learnt from my mother what ministry is really about and from the give and take between my parents, what unconditional love is about.

Nursing my mother in 1988 as she suffered with terminal cancer was one of the most precious experiences of my life. I learnt much about the struggle between hope and despair, life and death, holding on and letting go, in fighting to keep her alive and yet knowing that our real role was to help her let go into God, which I believe was her deepest longing. Singing in her ear, as she lay dying and witnessing her final surrender was an awesome privilege; a moment that has marked me for life.

At present, I live next door to my twin sister, Elizabeth, and her family. Being an identical twin to Elizabeth is such a beautiful blessing for me. She and I and my three brothers and older sister are extremely close. They are the most wonderful people I know.

There have been two major crossroads in my faith journey that have brought me to this stage of my life. Both occasions found me discerning the context of my faith commitment. There was in me a deep desire to send my roots down, but through circumstances beyond my choosing, I found that God was in fact uprooting me. Despite what seemed to be a clear and deep conviction in my heart about the direction of my life, God led me in ways I would never have imagined, beyond what I knew, to roads I would never have chosen. I would never have dreamt, for example, that I would compose songs. The songs that come to me are more a gift to me than to anyone else. They are borne out of moments of grace, insight and daily living.

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The result of that first uprooting was the emergence of my ministry and the establishing of Emmaus Productions. The second uprooting led me back to my ministry with a deeper commitment to the movement of God in my life through my ministry and a renewed appreciation of the ministry being about God’s way and not my own. Through this, I have learnt so much about finding God in the circumstances of my life, of living on the edge of faith, trust and hope.

—Monica Brown