Sister M. Bernadette Cordis Duggan, Maryknoll Sister for 61 Years Dies

Maryknoll, NY:
Sister Bernadette Cordis Duggan, M.M. died on May 6th, 2020 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 82 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 61 years. Bernadette was born in Boston, MA on September 30th, 1937 to Elizabeth (King) Duggan and Peter Duggan, she was baptized as Barbara. She is survived by her sister, Mary (Duggan) Roy and brother-in-law, P. Norman Roy, her brother Paul Ryan and her sister-in-law, Lorraine, five nieces, one nephew and 13 great grand nieces and nephews.

From 1951-1955, Barbara attended Cheverus High School in Malden, MA.  Following graduation, she enrolled in Catherine Labouré School of Nursing in Dorchester, MA, receiving her Registered Nurse Certificate in 1958. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY on September 2nd, 1958 (from Sacred Hearts Parish in Malden, MA.)

At her Reception into the Congregation, she was given the religious name Sister Mary Bernadette Cordis and was known as “Sister Bernadette”.  She made her First Profession of Vows at the Maryknoll Sisters Center on June 24th, 1961 and her Final Vows on June 24th, 1967 also at the Sisters Center.

Sister Bernadette’s first mission assignment was to Bethany (the Maryknoll Sisters Nursing Home at the time) located on the Sisters property; there she helped provide care to the elderly and sick Sisters. From 1965-1967, she studied at Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 1967. She continued her studies and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1969.

In 1970, Sister Bernadette received her first overseas mission assignment to the Philippines; there she worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital (a hospital administered by the Maryknoll Sisters) in Manapla. Her mission work involved TB outpatient treatment, home visits for outpatients, and public health nursing. The hospital was also a practice facility for students in a Baccalaureate Program, Sister Bernadette enjoyed being the field work guide for the nurses in training.

She spent the next 10 years, from 1975-1985, on the Island of Mindinao in the Mountains of Upi, Maguindanao with the tribal Tiruray people and Muslim communities. There she provided aid with pregnancy complications, teaching nutrition classes about the importance of maternal/child health, conducting pre- and post-natal clinics and classes for local traditional midwives, herbal medicine techniques, marriage preparation and natural family planning classes.

Sister Bernadette returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to serve in the Congregational Health Services/Laboratory from 1985-1988. She then spent the next 15 years, from 1989-2005, working in St. Paul’s Hospital in Shelabunia, this was a small rural hospital in Bangladesh operated by the local Sister Associates of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. There, she served as a. nurse with another Maryknoll Sister, Sister Marion Puszcz, M.M. who was the doctor in residence. For the next ten years, she continued to work at St. Paul’s Hospital while also being engaged in a variety of ministries in community health services: serving as a nurse in the local clinics located near the reserve for the Royal Bengal Tiger, resulting in a lot of tiger bite patients!

Sister Bernadette transferred to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2006 to serve as a nurse at “Seedling of Hope Hospice”, a project administered by the Maryknoll team there which focused on caring for adult HIV/AIDS patients.

In 2008, Sister Bernadette returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to semi-retire. She remained active in her ministry serving as a medical volunteer among the ill and elderly Sisters at the Center, accompanying them on medical appointments until 2016 when she retired.

Funeral Services: She will be buried at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be scheduled for a date in the future when group gatherings are deemed safe. Sister Bernadette’s family and our community remember her soul in prayer during this difficult time.