Sr. Maryann Bremke, C.PP.S.
Sr. Maryann Bremke, C.PP.S., is one of the founders of the Brunner Literacy Center in Dayton. Here, she talks about the ministry of the center, where other C.PP.S. sisters, Companions and members of the Cincinnati Province also volunteer.
How do you see the literacy center as carrying out the Father’s mercy?
Often when I think of God’s mercy, the parable of the prodigal offspring comes to mind. What joy and celebration happened when the parent in the story was able to offer an errant child a second chance at a good life.
In a similar fashion, the Brunner Literacy Center offers adults a second chance at a better life. The 150 people who are presently enrolled have missed out on their original literacy opportunities and have now come to the center seeking help. It brings so much joy to our staff and volunteers to welcome these individuals home for a second chance at success.
How did you come to found the literacy center?
In the spring of 2011, Sr. Helen Weber, C.PP.S., and I were grappling with a ministry cause. Given our lifelong backgrounds in education, it was natural for us to search this area of need. Census statistics associated with citizens in northwest Montgomery County indicated the critical need for literacy. It was a service waiting for our creative response.
In addition to our own educational expertise, we were blessed with a plethora of retired teachers living at Salem Heights who generously offered an hour or two of tutoring each week. The good work was contagious and soon many parishioners of the Northwest Cluster became volunteers. From the tiny mustard seed, great developments flourished.
What was/were your guiding principles in founding the center?
The mission of the Brunner Literacy Center simply stated is that it is a welcoming place where adults can reach their educational goals. The center welcomes all who come through its doors. Five distinct programs cover the range of educational needs. One-on-one tutoring is a unique teaching aspect that ensures the best measure of achieving individual goals.
The center prizes the uniqueness of each person and makes every effort to respond with appropriate help. Tutoring is given free of charge to each student; books and instructional materials are provided as well.
Mother Brunner, the foundress of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, engaged in the work of mercy of feeding the hungry of her Swiss countryside. So too, we sisters continue that work of mercy, engaging in feeding the minds of people in Northwest Montgomery County in need of another kind of bread.
How has the center’s reach grown over its years of existence?
Sheer numbers would indicate growth. The Brunner Literacy Center (BLC) started with one, two, three clients and today serves in excess of 150 clients. The BLC has grown in numerous additional ways as well.
Let me illustrate major areas. Originally, we began one-on-one tutoring with basic reading and math texts. Today, we have created five programs that focus on adult basic education, general equivalency diploma (GED), English speakers of other languages (ESOL), license preparation and adults with other needs.
Periodically we conduct new-tutor workshops which give an effective orientation to people interested in sharing their talents.
We are blessed with a board of distinguished men and women from the Dayton area who are committed to sustainability. Presently we are entertaining the expansion of the Brunner Literacy Center at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley and also at the Day Reporting Center that will provide rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders. Still other growth can be identified by checking the center’s website: brunnerliteracy.org
I read somewhere that mercy is the form love takes when it encounters misery. If this is a definition of mercy, then I can truly assure you that the Brunner Literacy Center is all about Precious Blood people and their response in participating in sharing God’s love and mercy.
Co-founders of the Brunner Literacy Center, C.PP.S. Srs. Helen Weber (left) and Maryann Bremke (right).
C.PP.S. Srs. Helen Weber (left) and Maryann Bremke (right) at the finish line of the Brunner Literacy Center's annual 5K run/walk.