Written by Patricia Glinton-Meicholas
Sister Ena Albury, a native of Eleuthera, came to Nassau at age 16. She was born in the settlement of Lower Bogue on the Eleuthera mainland on January 24 in the very year that the Saint Martin religious community was formed. Her parents Ralph and Eunice Albury gave her a strict but loving upbringing, which made it hard to leave home.
She received her early education at Lower Bogue All Age School and loved learning. She also demonstrated a talent and love for crafts from an early age and became proficient in such activities as crocheting, knitting and basket weaving. While still a school child, she earned four shillings a day from the latter craft.
She never attended Sunday Mass as a child, but came within the orbit of priests of the Church because her older sister was housekeeper to Father Leander Roerig, O.S.B at the rectory on Harbor Island. It was, however another Benedictine monk, Father Elias Achatz, who brought the idea of a religious vocation to young Ena’s attention. She decided that she might have a vocation, but was afraid to seek her father’s permission to enter the convent. When he was approached, Mr. Albury said ‘Yes” cryptically, but the girl did not quite know his feelings on the matter. Nevertheless, Ena entered Blessed Martin Convent on 19th March, 1953, taking the religious name of Mary Joseph. She would pronounce her final vows on 6th August, 1960.
Sister Ena was given the opportunity to continue her education at Aquinas College, where she was imbued with a love of teaching. Her first classroom assignment was at St. Joseph School, where she began in 1958. With a preference for teaching grades two through four, she enjoyed imparting such subjects as Art and Crafts, English, Physical Education and Needlework. Her teaching career also encompassed stints at St. Bede’s in Nassau and St. Vincent de Paul, where she eventually took on the role of Deputy Principal. She was appointed Principal of Holy Name School, Bimini in 1990.
One of the highlights of her life educationally came when she completed the two-year programme in teacher education at Bahamas Teachers College. Another was her realization of the stellar achievement of an Endorsed Teacher Certificate from the University of the West Indies (UWI), which qualified her to teach in any school in The Bahamas and the West Indies. She was also cited for outstanding performance in the production of her Long Study, which was the culminating project of the UWI programme. She was given a further opportunity for study in a year at the College of St Benedict in Minnesota. Sister Enas development continued at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she studied family, group and individual counseling. She did a practicum at Lydias Place in the same city and got the opportunity to counsel a group of women in Allegheny State Prison. She continued
her internship at home at the Crisis Centre, branching out from there to the Geriatrics unit at Sandilands and the Princess Margaret Hospital. A team came from Duquesne to observe her practice and she graduated from the University with a 3.8 cumulative average.
Reflecting on the fateful step she had taken fifty-four years before, Sister Ena said that she and a childhood friend had often dreamed over becoming brides and having families but she never regretted becoming a nun. She noted that she had been so privileged to have been
called by God and to be given the grace to face the difficulties encountered in life in a religious community and as an individual. “God has been good, is now good and always will be, she commented.