Sister Marie Vincent Brothers, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who spent nearly three decades as a teacher and graphics designer at Notre Dame of Maryland University and was once described as one of the "swingingest" nuns, died June 8 at Maria Health Care Center in Baltimore County of lymphoma. She was 86.
"She had a lovely gift of integrating art into just about everything," said Sister Miriam Jansen, who knew Sister Marie Vincent for at least 40 years. "Her creativity was just remarkable. She could bring out the most beautiful parts of life."
Sister Marie Vincent was born Rose Marie Brothers in Chillicothe, Mo., the second of five children of Ellen and William Brothers. Her father was a paper salesman for an Illinois-based company, a job that required the family to move several times before settling in Hannibal, Mo.
She joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1945, assuming a religious name in recognition of her youngest brother, and took her final vows in 1954, according to the SSND congregation. She majored in secondary education, receiving a bachelor's degree from Quincy College in Illinois in 1952 and a master's degree eight years later from DePaul University in Chicago. She studied design at the School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design in New York.
"She was a young woman in a day where there were a lot of boundaries and barriers for women," said Sister Ann Scholz in Baltimore County. "She pushed those boundaries. She was an artist. She was a professional woman in the days when women were not professionals."
Before coming to Maryland, Sister Marie Vincent taught art, English and business in high schools in Missouri and California for more than three decades.
In 1964, she met Sister Gerold Mobley while both were studying art and English at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Several years later, the two began teaching art at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis, the beginning of a decades-long collaboration in the arts that included the design and sale of greeting cards.
"They became very well known across St. Louis city for their art," Sister Miriam Jansen said.
In 1981, Sister Marie Vincent and Sister Gerold began spending their summers teaching art to children in Kennebunk, Maine, an activity they continued for three decades. In 1983, they joined what was then called the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, where the pair was often referred to as G & V.
At Notre Dame, Sister Marie Vincent instructed education students how to teach art. And for the first decade at Notre Dame, she and Sister Gerold lived in a student residence hall and served as residence directors.
Sister Marie Vincent in those days was often seen riding a bicycle on campus. She dressed with an artistic flair, wearing colorful outfits, Birkenstocks, and stylish scarves and jewelry, colleagues said.
"Sister Marie Vincent was peaceful and calm and had this wonderful smile," said Dr. Joan Sattler, an associate professor at the school of education. "She had a sense of humor."
The sisters created cards that bore one of Sister Marie Vincent's favorite passages in the Bible. But Dr. Sattler said Sister Marie Vincent tweaked the wording, inserting "she" so the card read: "She will see God face to face, there will be no need of sunlight or lamplight, for the Lord God will be shining on her."
When it was brought to her attention that the bible doesn't refer to "she," Dr. Sattler said, Sister Marie Vincent responded, "God wants shes to be in heaven, too."
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Sister Marie Vincent gave up teaching about a dozen years ago, Dr. Sattler said. She then focused on creating in-house graphics for Notre Dame and on the design business she had launched with Sister Gerold, called Gerold and Vincent Designs, Dr. Sattler said.
Both studied under artist Edward Benguiat, who called them the "swingingest nuns around" — a description they relished, according to a 2009 Baltimore Style magazine article about the pair. The two frequently played extras in movies being filmed in Baltimore, including "Ladder 49." Sometimes they would play nuns.
Sister Marie Vincent retired to Villa Assumpta in early 2011. The next year, she was awarded the Notre Dame President's Medal for long-standing service to the students and community.
Sister Marie Vincent leaves no immediate survivors, the congregation said.
A funeral service was held Friday in St. Louis. A memorial mass will be held at 11:45 a.m. Thursday at the chapel at Villa Assumpta, 6401 N. Charles St.