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Sr. M Bernadette

May 22, 1928 — March 19, 2024


Sr. M Bernadette

Sr. M. Bernadette of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Carmelite Sister of the Divine Heart of Jesus, 95, of Owensboro, Kentucky, returned home to her Lord and Bridegroom on March 19, 2024, surrounded by the Carmelite Sisters at the Carmel Home. She was born on May 22, 1928, to the late Joseph and Marie Niehaus in Cincinnati, OH. She was the second of seven children, one of which was a still born girl.

Sr. M. Bernadette grew up in Cincinnati with an awareness of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In fact, Sister’s family attended a local parish named after St. Thérèse. “My mother would take me to the (St. Thérèse) novena every year,” she said. “I grew to know the Carmelites.”  Her mother was devoted to St. Thérèse, especially because she lived through the Great Depression. She credited the saint’s prayers for preventing them from having to sell their home during the Depression. Her father served during World War I. After the war he was given a choice of either going to Paris or Lourdes; he chose to go to Lourdes in thanksgiving. 

Her educators were the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg, Indiana, and the Notre Dame Sisters deNamur of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her devout parents never suggested a religious vocation, but she was always surrounded by the example of holy priests and dedicated religious, whom she learned from her parents to love and respect.

Over time, Sr. M. Bernadette felt a call to religious life. In 1946, Sr. M. Bernadette confided to her younger sister, Winnie, her religious calling. Their wish ‘not to teach’ ruled out other congregations. Their immediate search was for a Carmel, because of their love for our Blessed Mother and a lifelong devotion to   St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Life as Discalced Carmelites was not God’s will for them, but it had to be an order dedicated to our Blessed Mother. An ad in the Sacred Heart Magazine read: “Is God calling you…to become a Carmelite Sister?” That did it! She found her calling in our Carmel, DCJ. The last movie Sister M. Bernadette watched at home was “The Song of Bernadette”. Her sister, Winnie, at age 16, brokenhearted, waved Sr. M. Bernadette goodbye. She was comforted by her father’s words: “When you’re her age, you can enter too, if you still want to.” Her mother and their parish priest, Fr. Wilhelm, drove Sr. M. Bernadette to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She entered the Carmelite community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, on September 7, 1946. In 1949, Sr M. Bernadette’s beloved sister Winnie, also entered the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and taking the name Sr. M. Andrea of the Holy Cross; she died May 19, 2022, at Carmel Home in her 70th jubilee of religious profession. 

In 1952, she went to help open Carmel Home in Owensboro, Kentucky, she was one of four Sisters who left Milwaukee and came by train to Evansville. She served the residents at Carmel Home until 1964, when she was sent to Wisconsin to study nursing. After graduating, she worked with the children and elderly, serving in the congregation in various other capacities (resident care, procurator, organist, local superior, and sacristan) in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Missouri, and Michigan. In March 2005, she was transferred back to her Old Kentucky Home where she enjoyed playing the organ for Mass, being sacristan, gardening, and visiting Residents. Sister moved to the Carmel Home Infirmary in 2022, where she continued to serve as resident advocate and led the prayers in the dining room. She was a good and faithful religious who was a joy to be with and to take care of; toward the end she was childlike, docile, and had no filters. Sister died in her (75th) jubilee year.

 Along with her parents, Sr. M. Bernadette was preceded in death by her siblings, Robert Niehaus, Sr. M. Andrea, Carmel DCJ, Mary Niehaus; nephew, Paul Volz; sister-in-law Mary Irene Niehaus, and brother-in-law, Walter Volz.

 She is survived by her sisters, Dottie Volz, and Irene (Clem) Wegman; nieces, Linda Gross, Rita Volz, Mary Marshall, and Denise Guck; and nephews, Robert Niehaus, Jr., James Niehaus, C.J. Wegman, and Robert Wegman.  

 A Funeral Mass will be at 2 pm on Thursday, March 21, 2024, in the Chapel of the Carmel Home, with Bishop Medley presiding. Visitation will be 12 noon in the Chapel of the Carmel Home.   

 In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to the Carmel Home, 2501 Old Hartford Road, Owensboro, Kentucky 42303, or Mass offerings; envelopes will be available at the Carmel Home Chapel.   The Carmelite Sisters wish to express their gratitude to the Carmel Home staff for the loving care Sister M. Bernadette received.

 Care by Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory.

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