April 22, 1925 – February 14, 2013
“The Sunshine Nurse”
Sister Mary Bernard Lieser, OSB was born into eternal life at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center on February 14, 2013, at 2:15 a.m. She took her last breath among some of her Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude. Sister Bernard will be remembered as a woman of profound faith and great love for family, and for her ministry.
From her early life on a Minnesota farm to working in the St. Gertrude’s Convent butcher house as a young sister, then from her 52-year career as a nurse to her ministry to the bereaved, she met life’s challenges with joy and trust in God. As a result, life seems to have always offered the full breadth of itself to her. After only two weeks of initial nurse’s training, Sister Bernard was put on the night shift at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood. “I learned to see Jesus in every patient,” she said.
The youngest of ten, she grew up in a home where German was the first language and there was no plumbing or electricity. “We worked hard, prayed hard, and played hard,” she recalled. She milked cows at an early age and fought through blizzards that left “banks higher than the apple trees.”
Those early home experiences influenced Sister Bernard’s long career of working amidst life’s extremes (from births to deaths). For nurses, it was an age where healthcare staff relied more on bedside manner rather than medications to keep patients calm and comfortable. This included back rubs and taking the time to listen.
Sister Bernard kept extensive scrapbooks that are full of history. They include family genealogies, stories of medical advances (such as the first use of penicillin in Cottonwood), and notes from grateful patients including one calling her the “Sunshine Nurse” who “taught the true meaning of Jesus.”
Sister Bernard was a Benedictine Sister of St. Gertrude’s since March of 1949. After retiring from nursing, she continued attending funerals, visiting families in the Colton, Uniontown area, and was a favored visitor to shut-ins.
Sister Mary Bernard is survived by the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, including her niece Sister Bernadette Stang, a brother-in-law Ray Worms, a sister-in-law Theresa Lieser and numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
The Vigil Service was on Monday, February 18, 2013, and the Mass of the Resurrection was on Tuesday, February 19 at 1:30 p.m. in the chapel.
Memorial Gifts in Sister Bernard’s honor can be made to the Monastery.