Meet Sister Bernetta

A Q & A with Sister Bernetta

Why did you become a Sister?

I was born into a Catholic family in which religion was an important part of life. Taking part in processions for various holydays, devotions, praying together, and many visits with the Franciscan sisters of Chicago laid a foundation for my future decision to enter the religious life.

Can you share the steps and the process you took to become a Sister?

I began the process of my religious life after graduating from St. Joseph High School in Chicago.  

I entered as a Postulant on June 21, 1959. This began three years of formation in the Felician Community. I was a Postulant for 1 year, followed by a year of Novitiate at which time I was invested with the habit of the order and given the name, Sister Mary Bernetta. During this year we had no contact with our family and during which we spent intense study of the constitutions, rule of life and theological studies. At the end of this year, I pronounced my first vows. This was followed by another year of Novitiate during which time was spent taking courses in our college. At the end of that year we were assigned to a ministry. I was assigned to be a teacher.

Is your Sister name different than the name you were given at birth?  How did you decide on your Sister name?

At my Baptism, I was given the name of Maryann. I was named after my grandmother. When we were approaching the Investiture (receiving the habit) at the time I entered we were not given the choice of a name. However, years later when we were able to change our name or go back to our baptismal name, I chose to keep the name I was given at Investiture.  

Why did you join the Felician Sisters?

On June 21, 1959, I entered the Felician Sisters (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice). I chose this order because they were my teachers at Sts. Peter and Paul School for 8 years and St. Joseph High School for 4 years. I credit my First Grade teacher and Fifth Grade teachers for providing me with the example of true religious. They were excellent teachers, kind, compassionate and loving. Not to say that my other teachers were not all of the above, but there was something different about them.

Can you tell us where you grew up and a little about your family?

I grew up on the South side of Chicago. I lived in a house above my grandparents. My family included my parents, Eric (Swedish descent) and Anna (Polish descent)  and two sisters (Elenore and Amelia) and my brother, Bernard. I was the youngest of the four children. My grandparents had fifteen children, ten of which survived to adulthood. So, there were always many aunts, uncles and cousins. So, get togethers, weddings and parties were part of my growing up years.

Can you tell us about the different ministry experiences you’ve had so far as a Sister?

I have taught on the elementary school level in grades 2 through 8, on the high school level for 8 years as a biology teacher.  I was an Assistant Principal at St. Joseph High School and Good Counsel High School.  I was a Principal of Holy Rosary High School in North Chicago, and at Good Counsel High School in Chicago.  I was a member of the Provincial Counsel for the Mother of Good Counsel Province for 12 years; Local Minister and Administrator of Mother of Good Counsel Infirmary; Local Minister of St. Clare Convent in Polonia, WI; and Local Minister of Good Counsel Convent.

How long have you been with Felician Village?

I have been assigned here since November 9, 2022.

What do you do when you go on your retreat?

I pray.

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