Sister Bernice Babin, MM,
Nurse at Queen of the World Hospital, Kansas City and in Central and South America,
Dies at 99
Maryknoll, NY — Sister Bernice Florence Babin, MM, a nurse who served at one of the first racially integrated hospitals in the United States, as well as in several South American countries, died August 9, 2015, at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY. She was 99 years old.
Born on August 5, 1916, in Plaisted, ME, to Joseph and Eulalia Labbe Babin, Sister Bernice graduated from Our Lady of Wisdom Academy, St. Agatha, ME, then worked for several years as a bookkeeper and stenographer before entering Maryknoll Sisters from St. Lucy’s Parish, Frenchville, ME, on August 5, 1941, at their motherhouse in Ossining.
Following formation, she made her First Vows on March 7, 1944, receiving the religious name, Sister Rose Claire. Following completion of studies in catechetics and religious education at Maryknoll Teachers College, Ossining, NY, in 1945, Sister Bernice was sent to Bolivia, where she worked at a clinic in Riberalta from 1946-1953. She then worked with Mexicans in Houston, TX, the bulk of whom attended St. Patrick’s and St. Stephen’s Parishes in the city, where her catechetical studies formed the basis for her ministry to these oft-migrating parishioners until 1956.
Sister Bernice was then sent to Queen of the World Hospital, one of the first interracial hospitals in the United States, located in Kansas City, MO. There she completed studies in licensed practical nursing, serving at the hospital until 1957. That year, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, where she worked with elderly and infirm members of her congregation at Bethany House, Ossining, NY, until 1959.
Sister Bernice was then sent to Chicago, IL, where she worked with the Puerto Rican community until 1965, when she was sent to Guatemala, working in Guatemala City in 1965 and Huehuetenango from 1966-1967.
In 1968, her major work began, when she was sent to Chile. There she worked in local parishes in Licanten, then Rauco, doing pastoral work, ministering in women’s groups and Christian formation, as well as with parish deacons and their families.
She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2007, where she lived in retirement, engaged in assisting various offices at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, as well as serving in active prayer for the mission sites where she served. Sister Bernice donated her body to the New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, as a final act of service.
Sister Bernice is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Rita McGary of Reno, NV, and Mrs. Irene Meissner of Reston, VA.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Bernice on Wednesday, August 12 , 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. A memorial Mass will follow on Thursday, August 16, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.