Maryknoll, NY: Sister Joan Marie Berninger, M.M. died on February 10th, 2020 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 86 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 66 years.
She was born in LaSalle, IL to Lillian (Funfsinn) Berninger and John Berninger. She had two brothers and three sisters: John, Michael, Janet, Lynne, and Sally.
Joan attended high school at the Academy of Our Lady in Peoria, IL from 1947 -1951. She then worked as a secretary and parish organist/piano accompanist before entering the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate on September 2nd, 1953 (from St. Bernard Parish, Peoria, IL). She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7th, 1956 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY and her Final Vows on March 7th, 1962, also at the Sisters Center.
In 1958, Sister Joan attended classes at Maryknoll Teachers College (located on the Sisters property in Maryknoll, NY); she received a Bachelor’s of Education Degree in 1962. She continued her studies at Manhattanville College in Harrison, NY and received a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Theology in 1967. She then attended New Mexico State University, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Education in 1987. Other significant studies over the years included Buddhism, Bible as literature, and language study in Portuguese and Spanish.
From 1956-1967, she served at the Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY working in the administration office and teaching art at Maryknoll Teachers College.
Sister Joan was then assigned to St. Anthony School in Wailuku, HI. There, she taught religion, art and served as a student counselor until 1977.
In 1978, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY and was appointed Director of the Maryknoll Sisters Mission Institute until 1981. She then served as Coordinator of the Sisters Center from 1982 -1985.
In 1986, Sister Joan transferred to the Western U.S. Region and taught at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico until 1988, when she was promoted to Principal. She then served as the first Supervisor of Catholic Elementary Schools in the Las Cruces Diocese from 1989-2001.
In 2002, Sister Joan returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center to serve as Coordinator of Congregational Services until 2012. In 2013, she relocated to Chicago to join the Integration/Formation Community, but returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2014. She served as a Secretary in the Maryknoll Sisters Nursing Home Care Unit until 2019.
A Vespers service will be held for Sister Joan on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
A Memorial Mass will follow on Thursday, February 13th, 2020 at 11:00 a.m., also in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
Sister Joan has very generously offered her body to science.