Sr Bernadette has left us at the age of 93, 72 of which she spent in religious life. She died at St Michael’s Care, Westgate-on-Sea, England on the 3rd June 2021. her funeral will take place at 11h30 on the 30th June at the church of the Holy Family Parish, Birchington.
Tribute written by Sr Sheelah Clarke :
I only really came to know Bernie in Peterborough, in the twilight of her more mature years. But there were easily discernible glimpses of her younger self breaking through.
Born in County Monaghan, Ireland, to hardworking parents, Bernie, together with her siblings, enjoyed a typical Irish upbringing where the Faith was strong and education prized. Her childhood would in no way prove to be carefree but there was love in abundance.
Her birthday was the 19th January 1928 and she was baptized Frances Bernadette. However, Bernadette was to take preference and very soon became her name of choice. Bernie had, as had her mother, a deep, life-long devotion to Saint Bernadette.
A call to religious life saw her join the Daughters of Jesus in Abbey Wood, south-east London, from where, in 1946, she would enter the novitiate of the Daughters of Jesus in Brittany, France. Two years later, in 1948, Bernie was professed, taking her first vows in the Congregation. Life in community followed as did intense periods of study.
Bernie became a teacher. She enjoyed teaching and she loved the children she taught. No doubt the experience she had gained through being the eldest sibling and so having to generally keep an eye on them, contributed to her success in the classroom, that and her exceptional memory and a lovely sense of humour.
Over the years, as she endeavoured to follow the call to serve – be it in teaching, catechetics, pastoral work, helping out at retreat times at Massingham Saint Mary Retreat Centre during the summer months, or as a member for many years of the Africa / Europe Faith and Justice Group, she responded to this call wholeheartedly. It took her to many different places and communities, one of which was Greenisland, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles.
Tributes paid by her many friends speak of her joy, the loving warmth of her smile, her kindness and delight in children and in the service asked of her. As one correspondent wrote, “She was definitely one of the lovely ones!”
Throughout, Bernie’s love of those she served, together with her love of music, poetry, and all things spiritual, made her a peaceful contented presence, wherever she found herself.