Mass of the Resurrection Welcome for Mary Ellen Bernard


delivered by Carol Wagner, RDC


Welcome to the Mass of the Resurrection in celebration of the life of Sr. Mary Ellen Bernard.  


As I was reflecting on Mary Ellen in preparing for today, the profound call of the Spirit to each of us to live together in deep commitment to the common good kept coming to me. 


As a gentle but firm woman – who was filled with compassion and wit, simplicity and kindness, Mary Ellen lived her life committed totally to the common good of her students and her sisters.  


She empowered others – day in and day out…  a humble woman who lived her life quietly in the background, though she never missed a trick!


MaryEllen, also lovingly known as SMEB to so many of her high school students and English colleagues,

has touched the lives of thousands of students and professional colleagues,

young and old, during her 69+ years in mission and ministry as an

RDC English teacher par excellence! 


Her compassion and her loving humor, combined with her humble yet strong and determined personality -  led so many struggling readers and writers to academic success…

Whether teaching grammar and writing skills to insecure freshmen at Good Counsel and Preston,

or helping seniors write and rewrite drafts of college essays to Harvard or Yale, she loved each student, and they loved her!


How many masters and PhD theses, along with lengthy grant applications did she edit and proof read for so many for so many years?

During her retirement years, how many women in the South Bronx finally passed their GEDs with her persistence to never give up!


MaryEllen was truly an instrument of God’s compassion in the lives of our sisters, her family and dearest friends and all the students and English teachers she mentored and coached for so many years. 


Her gentle and holy presence will be missed by each of us who knew her, cared for her and loved her, including her dearest friends at Holy Family convent, and her sister-in-law ___ who is here with us today.


Mary Ellen was someone whose smile, kindness, and humor made us feel welcomed and at home.


Today we celebrate that welcome she received on Thursday evening,

from her parents, and brother, family, friends and sisters…

back into the arms of Divine Compassion –   

as she returned home to God.


As we celebrate this Liturgy of Resurrection

let us humbly embrace life as she did

with its struggles, challenges and its joys,

living out her legacy of compassion,

in deep commitment to the common good of us all,

and filled with gratitude to God for the gift she has been to us.