My family lived in Holy Cross Parish and it was in the sixth grade that I first thought about becoming a Sister. Sr. Baptista, a very charismatic religion teacher, seemed to be on fire with the love of God. She inspired her students with her loving example. With that same love, the girls would make visits to the church at recess, noon hour and after school just to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
My family was very religious. We would say the rosary every evening after dinner. I lived next door to my grandparents, aunt and uncles and I would go with them to Our Mother of Perpetual Help novenas on Tuesday evening and to Mass on Saturday morning. We lived about a mile from church and did not own a car, so we would walk to church. I would go to the Grotto on the bus with my aunt and we would meet my uncle there for the St. Ann Novena.
I had a great desire to go to a Catholic high school so I worked my way through Immaculata Academy. I felt it was a great and wonderful sacrifice, since I had to take several buses to get there. While on the bus, I would pray and ask God to help me to know my vocation. I also prayed to St. Joseph every night and asked him for help. My mother, aunt, uncles, my two sisters, my brother and I were all taught by the Sister of St. Mary of Oregon. The Sisters had a great influence on my family. Some of my siblings were taught by the same Sisters who taught my mother.
Sr. Andre Campau was my seventh and eighth grade teacher; she invited some of her former students to come for the profession ceremony on August 15. When I went to the profession ceremony, Sister Andre asked if I wanted to come as an aspirant to see if I liked religious life. I came in September 1954 and was received into the community as a postulant in February 1955.
After I entered I felt a great peace and joy. This was God’s way of letting me know this is what He wanted me to do for Him. I had a great love for God and Our Mother Mary, and I wanted to share that love with others. I taught first and second grades hoping to instill in the children that great love for God and Mother Mary. I found that working with little children is always a joy.
Photos of Sr. Marie Bernadette’s life and ministry are available on our Flickr site.