In Memory

Sister M. Bernardus Dwyer, IHM

January 2, 1926 – January 27, 2019

Sister M. Bernardus Dwyer, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at Our Lady of Peace Residence, Scranton, PA.

She was born on January 2, 1926, in Utica, NY, and given the name Elizabeth Anne. She was the daughter of the late Bernard and Mary Ellen Ward Dwyer. She entered the IHM Congregation on February 2, 1945, made her temporary profession of vows on August 2, 1947, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1950.

Sister Bernardus served as a teacher in the following schools: St. Ann Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1947 to 1950; St. Bernardine Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1950 to 1955; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Pittston, PA, from 1955 to 1957; St. Ann Elementary School in Nyack, NY, from 1957 to 1960; St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY, from 1960 to 1964; Our Lady of Peace Elementary School in Clarks Green, PA, from 1964 to 1968; St. Ambrose Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT, from 1974 to 1975; Most Holy Rosary Elementary School in Syracuse, NY, from 1975 to 1984; and St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Binghamton, NY, from 1984 to 1985. She also taught religious education at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Vestal, NY, from 1991 to 1998.

Sister Bernardus served as principal at the following schools: St. Pius X Elementary School in Couer d’Alene, ID, from 1968 to 1971; and St. Stephen Elementary School in New York, NY, from 1971 to 1974.

Sister also served as a microfilm clerk at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Carbondale, PA, from 1985 to 1991; and as a volunteer at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Binghamton, NY, from 1998 to 2012.

From 2012 until the time of her death, Sister Bernardus was a prayer minister at her home in Binghamton, New York, and later at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Marywood College.

She is preceded in death by a sister, Margaret Shea.

She is survived by three sisters, Phyllis Roehm and Sally Paniccia both of Vestal, NY, and Patricia of Binghamton, NY, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Thursday, January 31, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Wednesday, January 30, between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Interment will follow Mass on Thursday at Calvary Cemetery in Johnson City, NY.

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, Spring 2019 issue
Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President

Sister M. Bernardus Dwyer, Funeral January 31, 2019

My stronghold is God, the God who loves me faithfully.

That quote was one of the psalm responses we prayed at yesterday’s wake service for Bernardus. Based on so many of the stories and remembrances I’ve heard about Bernardus, it struck me that her life was truly a trusting and faithful witness to the covenant with her God, whom she loved deeply and unreservedly and who, she knew, loved her unconditionally. Her inherent spirit of peace and goodness, we know, did not rely on external accolades or successes, though she had many of those in her lifetime. Rather her sense of serenity was born in her awareness and acceptance of her own vulnerability through which she came to understand in a deeply personal way that inner trust and faith in God that were the hallmarks of her life.

Bernardus’ life was dedicated to service of others. Before she came to the IHMs, she worked briefly as a switchboard operator for New York Bell Telephone. Having learned to juggle many voices talking at once, it seemed natural that her next move was to enter the convent!

How blessed we were for these last seventy-two years that she made that decision. Her commitment to and giftedness in the field of education, both as a teacher and principal, were exceptional. For over thirty-eight years, she ministered to elementary and junior high students in schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Idaho, and Connecticut. She also taught religious education classes for seven years in Vestal, NY. She absolutely loved her interactions with her students and took special note of those who needed extra help or perhaps a quiet word of encouragement. The stories of her experiences in the classroom reflect her passion for teaching, her love and care for her students, her quiet sense of humor, and her unassuming humility. After she left school, she served as a records clerk at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Carbondale and later as a parish volunteer at St. Catherine of Siena parish in Binghamton. For these past seven years, Bernardus witnessed to her generous spirit and dedication as a prayer minister in Binghamton and then here at Our Lady of Peace.

Wherever Bernardus ministered, as we might expect, she extended herself whenever she saw a need, whether it was by visiting the sick, working with a senior citizens group, or simply reaching out with a kind word or gesture. An excellent seamstress, she happily made clothes for family and friends and altar linens and baptismal bibs and robes for the parish. Her gifts of beautifully made “Nun Dolls” were the highlight of many craft shows, where the number of chances sold usually far surpassed any other item. It’s estimated that she made about 100 of these dolls for others.

But it was not so much what Bernardus did, but how she did it, that touched our lives. Her humble kindness and generosity, her dedication and gentle humor, her interest in others more than herself, these were special gifts to those she knew. These gifts and her values had their roots in her family experience with her parents and sisters. She was especially grateful to be able to live with Pat and her dog, Mollie, while doing parish and then prayer ministry in Binghamton before coming to OLP. She relished her time with her sisters and their families, and never tired of sharing stories about them with her IHM sisters.

St. Francis de Sales wrote, “In life we seek God. In death we find God. In eternity we possess God.” For sure, we are blessed for having shared life with Sister Bernardus. We will miss her, but we rejoice that she is now at home and at peace with her God for whom she lived her life. She now enjoys eternal life with her parents, Mary Ellen and Bernard, and her sister, Margaret. We pray for all of us whose lives have been touched by Bernardus, especially her sisters, Pat, Phyllis, and Sally, her nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, her IHM sisters, especially her friend, Sister Anne and her Band members, the sisters, staff, and administrators at Our Lady of Peace, and all those who were part of her journey here on earth. We give gratitude that God’s covenant with Bernardus is now fulfilled and pray that perpetual light and happiness will shine upon her forever.

Pat will now place the scriptures on Bernardus’ casket, for indeed Bernardus heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it and received life to the full… the Word now beckons her home.

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