by Sue Ann Rybak
Mount St. Joseph Academy President Sister Kathleen Brabson, (formerly Sr. Thomas Audrey), 71, a nun in the order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph for 53 years, died on Jan. 23 from lung cancer at St. Joseph Villa in Flourtown.
The daughter of the late Francis Thomas and Audrey (nee Burke) Sister Brabson was born on Feb. 7, 1947 in New York, but grew up in Pennsylvania after her family moved. She attended Seven Dolors Grade School in Wyndmoor and Cecilian Academy in Mt. Airy.
At the time of her passing, she was president of Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown and a former teacher with more than 35 years of experience. Students at Mount St. Joseph Academy knew Sister Brabson not only as the president of the school, but also as the “School’s Master Fidget Spinner” who loved playing basketball and dancing to Motown music.
Principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy Dr. Judith Caviston said that although Sister Brabson didn’t get to talk to the students every day, she connected with them and tried to foster a love of learning and leadership in the students.
“She would challenge students she met to see who could win at fidget spinning, and unfortunately, she always won,” said Caviston, a colleague and close friend.
Caviston said that Sister Brabson leaves behind a legacy devoted to the Sisters of St. Joseph’s mission of serving God. She recalled how Sister Brabson would meet the new class of Mounties or colleagues in the chapel and ask them to look at the sea of stars that cover the chapel ceiling. According to Sister Brabson, the stars represented each Sister of St. Joseph, each student that went before them and the legacy they left for them to follow.
Under Sister Brabson’s tenure as president, she oversaw the high school’s year-long 150-year celebration, the installation of a new science wing and the construction of a state-of-the-art, multipurpose turf field. Prior to becoming Mount’s president in 2005, she served as dean of students for 11 years while simultaneously teaching theology to juniors.
She also taught at St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, Delaware and Delone Catholic High School in Hanover, Pennsylvania. She was a member of the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools and a member of the Board of Trustees of the John Carroll High School in Bel Air, Maryland.
Sister Brabson was a graduate of Chestnut Hill College and Villanova University. She is the sister of Patricia Brabson, Audrey Durkin (Dennis), Angela Lyons (Edward) and the late John F. Brabson. She is also survived by sister-in-law, Jeanne Holt Brabson, nieces and nephews and members of her congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Sister’s name may be made to Saint Joseph Villa, 110 W. Wissahickon Ave., Flourtown, PA 19031; or Mount Saint Joseph Academy, c/o Sister Kathleen Brabson Scholarship Fund.