Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Bernardine Beckman, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)

                                            Birth Place: Nebraska, USA
                             First Profession: April 22, 1946
                        Final Profession: December 12, 1950
                         Feast Day: August 20 (St. Bernard)
                   Mission Experience: USA, Rome, Namibia

I come from a large family. I am child number 5 among 12 children, and I entered the convent at Raeville at age 14. After my first profession in 1946, I went to St. Catherine’s School of Nursing in Omaha and became an RN in 1950. My main profession was in nursing though I held other assignments as well.

In March of 1969, I was missioned to the Philippines for 2 years to work at the hospital in Tacloban-Leyte. It was a great experience! From November 1976 to November 1982 I was elected as a General Councilors for our Congregation with residence in Rome. During those years I became a world traveler – to Africa twice, each time for three months in order to visit the four Priories and their Stations. There were also several trips to Germany and even twice returning to Norfolk during that span of 6 years. I even had the joy of being tour guide to some of my family who came for a visit in 1979.

June 23, 1996, Sr. Regina Keiser and I celebrated our 50th Jubilee of profession together with 50 wedding anniversary of my blood sisters Dorothy and Norbert, Rose and Ambrose, Martha and Louie. This occasion also became a farewell for me as I was appointed to go to Namibia in August for three years to help guide 64 indigenous Sisters who had asked to transfer to our international Congregation. During this precious time, I discovered that age doesn’t really make a difference. I did more car driving during those three years than I did all my life. My biggest joy was on August 29, 1999 at the celebration of the integration of the Sisters transferring their Stability to the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing. It was a festive day from early morning until evening with singing and dancing. I returned to Norfolk in time to usher in the year 2000.

In 2003, another of my secret wishes came to fulfilment. I was appointed to help at the Mission in Winnebago. The challenge for me was to learn cooking. By the time I left in 2011, I could do without all the cookbooks. I had to think of a time way back in 1946 when I told Sr. Diemud in Raeville that I wanted to be a cook and I didn’t need to go to High School.

In 2011 I returned to Norfolk where I am semi-retired, which means you can have more time for prayer. But as you all know, Sisters do not really retire – we keep on doing what we do because we are working for the Lord. “The pay isn’t much but the retirement plan is out of this world.”
Now I am going on 86, and I would like to tell the world that being given the gift from God to be a Missionary Benedictine Sister is the greatest gift of all. Truly, I can say with the Gospel of St. Mark (Ch. 10: 29-30) that having given my life to Christ, I have received back “a hundred times more in life,” and I look forward “and to eternal life in the ages to come.”

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