Sister M. Bernardine Fennessy

Margaret Fennessy, known in the Congregation as Sister M. Bernardine, was born on 5 September, 1929 at Royal Park, Victoria. Her father was Michael Patrick Fennessy from Fitzroy and her mother was Ellen Ann O’Regan from Canterbury, both well-known Victorian suburbs. Bernardine was the youngest child of four, the other children being Bernard, Paul and Mary.

Bernardine was educated at St Margaret Mary’s Primary School, East Brunswick and Catholic Ladies’ College, Melbourne from which she matriculated in 1947.

Bernardine entered the Congregation on 2 February, 1949 and her home Parish at this time was that of St Margaret Mary. She was professed in 1951 and obtained her Teaching Certificate the same year.

Bernardine began teaching at St Mary’s, Liverpool in 1952. In 1954 she taught junior secondary at St Mary’s, Concord West and then from 1957 to 1973 was appointed as Principal at Strathmore, East Melbourne, Essendon, all in Victoria and then Curtin in ACT.

She continued in the schools as Religion Co ordinator at Niddrie and then Altona North and then as a teacher at Clifton Hill and Strathmore. At this last school, Bernardine became the much loved part time librarian from 1988 until 2000 after which she continued the position in a voluntary capacity until December, 2003.

Bernardine was a quiet, reliable, gentle woman who had a passion for books, the garden and people. In the Community, she was very aware of the needs of others and would do things unobtrusively like writing each week to someone away on a Course. The garden, particularly flowers, were important to her and one would often find her watering and weeding.

In her latter years she would often bring home the children’s library books to read and enjoy. This helped her with recommending authors to children. She was inclined to worry unnecessarily but was careful that others were not affected by it. Her keen sense of humour helped her in many situations. Love for her family, especially Mary, with whom in her retirement she met each Friday for lunch, was evident. Bernardine was a much-loved Sister of Charity.

Bernardine died on the 11th October, 2004. Her motto was, “To Jesus through Mary”.