" That chosen 'Ark' of salvation, free from the common shipwreck of sin. "
St. Alphonsus Liguori

Sr Bernadette OSsR Funeral RIP...

It was a strange start to Holy Week for the Redemptorists and the Redemptoristine Nuns of Dublin as they all gathered in Liverpool for the Requiem of the last English Redemptoristine Nun - Sr Mary Bernadette OSsR. They gathered to thank God for her life and to lay her to rest.

Along with her own blood family there were also six OSsR Nuns who had left the enclosure and sang the Requiem Mass. Fr Provincial Ronnie McAinsh CSsR presided at the Funeral Mass, accompanied by many other Fathers and Brothers. Bishop Ralph Heskett CSsR was in attendance as was Archbishop Kelly, Emeritus Archbishop of Liverpool.

sr bernadette profession 1959

ossr nuns sr bernadette rip

Fr McAinsh CSsR preached the following...

Requiem Mass of Sr. Bernadette.

 

The gospel for today. Very fitting. The story of a woman who acted not out of her head but out of our heart. A woman who was was criticised by many for her extravagant love. An act considered SO extravagant that it be scandalised some people.  They called it a waste.

 

We are here to celebrate the life of another woman who gave her whole life to God. In 1954 (63 years ago|) Sr. Bernadette entered the Redemptoristine monastery, and I am sure she did this with the same deep conviction in her heart as the woman in today’s gospel. Her head might have said, “Don't be crazy and enter an enclosed monastery”, but her heart wanted to be very close to our Lord. And I'm sure many, many people at the time, saw this as a waste.

 

However the love of the heart and the mystery of a relationship are never wasteful, except in the eyes of a consumer society. 

 

And the call to live a life as a Redemptoristine is not a selfish response, but I believe, one of the greatest challenge one can imagine. It is a life of service for others, a hidden life of service lived in a mystery that even the Sister herself does not understand. How can she touch the hearts of people in Africa and Asia; in the inner cities of this country; and in assist in the tragedies of human relationships in life?   I don't know; and Sr. Bernadette did not know. However we both believe that in responding to the call of God and believing in his promise that no prayer goes unheard or unnoticed, it is a life and a vocation that is of immeasurable value.

 

And it was not easy. How difficult it must have been to leave the ambience of Catholic Lancashire travel to a monastery in a remote village in South Devon, and there believe you are changing the world and bringing about plentiful redemption. 

 

And of course living in a community with 28 other women, good and all as they are, brings challenges also. I well remember when she began a new work for the community of printing. She began by simply printing memorial cards and then moved on to offset printing on a larger machine. However the only room she could be given was in a basement which was, I suppose 9 feet by 6 feet, and had little light. But she stuck it, and produced some very fine work.

 

Of course like all of us Bernadette was not a saint. She was a Lancashire woman (I can see this because I'm not a Yorkshireman) and I think this means that she was forthright and had strong opinions - and at times she was not slow to express them.

 

However, she always believed they were in the best interest of the community.

 

As the community began to diminish in number, she oversaw the now elderly group being relocated first of all to UpHolland and then to Gillmoss before a small group of them moved into Nazareth house in Crosby; and from there into a small cottage, and eventually into the care home.

 

It was a life journey that she could not possibly have anticipated when she went through the doors of the monastery in 1954 and thought, “This is it for life”!  And it is a reminder that none of us knows what lies ahead in our own journey.

 

At Nazareth house she received the care of the Sisters and the carers, but also a very special attention from her Redemptoristine Community in Dublin who made frequent trips to visit her and indeed Sisters from that community were with her in her final hours and the moment of death. On behalf of the family, and the Redemptorist of the London Province, I would like to express my profound gratitude to them for their care, their evangelical witness, and above all for their tenderness and compassion. And of course our own Redemptorist community here in Liverpool have been true Brothers to our Redemptoristine Sisters over many years. I express deep gratitude to each of them.

 

Today marks a landmark in the history of Sr. Bernadette’s Religious Order, since as far as I am aware she was the last English Redemptoristine. However I am also happy to remind all of us that nationality is completely secondary to vocation. As St. Paul tells us, “there is neither Greek or Jew, male or female; we are all one in Christ”. And so that Redemptoristine vocation which captivated the heart of Sister Bernadette and sustained her throughout her life, will continue in many parts of the world.

 

Indeed it does continues since in 1947 four Sisters from Sr. Bernadette’s community made a Foundation in Canada. From that foundation new monasteries were founded in USA – two of them, in Australia, in the Philippines, in South Africa and in Thailand.

 

This means that Plentiful redemption will be lived and be preached and prayed for wherever there are Redemptoristine nuns. It is Constitution 13 of their Rule which states, “Although scarcely visible and hidden from the public, their evangelical nevertheless continues to touch hearts in every part of the world”.

 

It is in this spirit that we thank God for the life of Sister Bernadette and commend her to the welcoming arms of Jesus, to the tender care of our Lady and to the intercession or her foundress, Blessed Maria Celeste Crostarosa.

 

May Bernadette's soul rest in peace.