In Memory

Sister M. Benedicta Berendes, IHM

November 28, 1927 – October 2, 2011

Benedicata Berendes, IHM

Sister M. Benedicta Berendes, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, October 2, 2011, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on November 28, 1927, in Woodside, NY, and given the name Eileen Ann. She was the daughter of the late Joseph and Anna Fraser Berendes. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1945, made her temporary profession of vows on May 8, 1948, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1951.

Sister Benedicta served as a teacher and music instructor at the following schools: St. Bernardine Elementary School, Baltimore, MD, from 1948 to 1950; St. Patrick Elementary/High School, Scranton, PA, from 1950 to 1952; Sacred Heart Elementary School, Mt. Holly, NJ, from 1952 to 1957; St. Leo Elementary/High School, Ashley, PA, from 1957 to 1958; Holy Rosary Elementary/High School, Scranton, PA, from 1958 to 1965; Little Flower Elementary School, Bethesda, MD, from 1965 to 1967; St. Rosalia Elementary/High School, Pittsburgh, PA, from 1967 to 1970; Marywood College/University, Scranton, PA, from 1973 to 2002; and St. Rosalia Convent, Pittsburgh, PA, from 2002 to 2004. Since 2004, Sister Benedicta was a faculty member in the Religious Studies Department of Marywood University in Scranton, PA.

A presidential scholarship was named in her honor for her many years of service at Marywood.

She received a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Science degree in religious education, both from Marywood College; a Master of Music degree from the University of Notre Dame; and a Doctoral Degree in Musicology from the University of Pittsburgh. In further education, she received a Choir Master Certificate in the American Guild of Organists.

She was preceded in death by a brother, John R. Berendes, and a foster brother, Thomas J. Cassidy.

She is survived by a sister, Sr. Ann, IHM, of Center Moriches, NY; cousins, nieces and a nephew.

The funeral will be Thursday, October 6, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Wednesday, October 5, between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Thursday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Fall 2011 issue

Hanging on the door of my sister’s room in Queen of Peace Community was a cross simply decorated with child-like flowers. In the center of the cross, written in a light yellow circle was a quote from Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” As often as I had visited my sister in that room I never took time to read it until I had to take it down. Now it is hanging on my door as a reminder to myself of the challenge that waits for me.

Erma Bombeck must have known my sister because these words could not have been a more fitting expression of her qualities. Benedicta was an accomplished musician, organist, artist, especially in calligraphy, and in arranging and coordinating, and a tremendous correspondent. She loved to garden and raise her flowers. She kept in close contact with family and friends. She never missed a birthday, anniversary, or any special event in our family or among her close friends without a card or phone call.

Her loyalty to family and friends was quite obvious at her wake and funeral by the numbers who came. People who knew her and have settled elsewhere have corresponded with me expressing gratitude and sincere accolades for her.

She was always interested in our young sisters and anticipated the struggles of the newly arrived, visiting sisters from other cultures or convents and sincerely reached out to them to make them feel comfortable and welcome.

All I can say is that she always looked out for me and I pray that she is still doing that from her heavenly organ bench on high. I only hope that I can use most of my talents before I stand before the Lord. As one of our cousins said, “I miss her already.”

Eternal rest, my dear sister.

by Ann Berendes, IHM

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