Sister Bernice was born and raised in Nazareth, PA with her younger brother Joseph and sister Helen. Her parents had emigrated from the Burgenland in Austria and were members of Holy Family Parish, an MSC parish and the only Catholic church in Nazareth. Sr. Bernice was taught by our Sisters in the parish school. Sr. Bernice entered our community on September 7th, 1946. She made her First Profession of Vows on August 19th,1948 and, shortly after that, began her ministry of loving service to her sisters in community and to everyone who crossed her path wherever she was stationed.
Sr. Bernice took care of the elderly at Villa St. Elizabeth, Reading, and she also cared for our MSC seminarians in Shelby, Ohio. She was the homemaker for our sisters in St. Cyril and Methodius parish, Reading, and helped prepare meals when she worked in the dietary department at Good Samaritan Hospital, Pottsville. For many years Sr. Bernice was the main receptionist at our Motherhouse. Visitors appreciated seeing Sr. Bernice’s smile of welcome when they walked in the front door of our convent.
For her entire life Sr. Bernice was ready to help wherever needed and loved to be in community with her sisters. Even when she was in a wheelchair she would take herself to chapel and to the dining room and to our development office whenever volunteers were needed to stuff envelopes for mailing.
Sr. Bernice was a kind, generous, quiet soul who loved to laugh, had the most beautiful smile, and was the most even-tempered person I ever met. I never heard her raise her voice in anger or complain about anything, even with the health issues that come with aging. Her baptismal name is “Stella” which means “star” and Sr. Bernice was one of our community “stars” for a long time. How fitting it is that her religious name “Bernice” has the word “nice” in it. That very aptly describes our Sister Bernice.
The day before her 95th birthday Sr. Bernice was called home to Heaven. She died peacefully at St. Joseph Villa, Reading, where she resided with eight of our sisters and the retired Bernardine sisters. The epitaph that Sr. Bernice chose for her tombstone is: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I Place My Trust In You. With child-like simplicity and humility Sr. Bernice placed her trust in her beloved Jesus her entire life. May she now rest in His loving embrace.