Mother Antonia Brenner, who left a comfortable life in Beverly Hills to minister to inmates in a Mexican prison, eventually becoming a nun and spending more than 30 years living in a cell to be closer to those she served, died last week in Tijuana, Mexico, reports the New York Times. She was 86. Mary Brenner was a twice-divorced mother of eight when she began doing volunteer work for the poor in Mexico in the 1960s. She had been active in charity work in California while she was married, but her devotion intensified after a priest led her to Tijuana’s La Mesa Prison, which housed convicted murderers, rapists and other serious felons.
At age 50, she became a nun and founded the Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour, an order for older single, divorced or widowed women who want to serve the poor. Brenner began providing for inmates' basic needs, giving them aspirin, blankets, toiletries and eyeglasses. She moved into the women's section of La Mesa Prison, living in a 10-by-10 foot cell. She could come and go freely, but she devoted herself to the lives inside. Her death was related to a neuromuscular disorder.