Current Mission Location – Maryknoll Sisters Center- Maryknoll, NY
Sister Bernadette was born March 16th, 1930 in Brooklyn, NY to Josephine (Zobel) Lynch and John Lynch. She had 2 sisters. She graduated from St. Josephs Commercial High School, Brooklyn, NY in 1948.
Sister Bernadette entered the Congregation at the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate, in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania on September 6th, 1949. Six months later she moved to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to complete her formation. She professed First Vows on March 7th, 1952 and Final Vows on March 7th, 1955, both at the Sisters Center. During formation, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Mary Rogers College at Maryknoll, NY in 1955.
Sister Bernadette received her first assignment to Bolivia/Peru South America in 1955. Following language studies in Cochabamba, Bolivia she went to Lima, Peru, where she taught general subjects in primary school and catechetics to high school students in poor areas. She continued this type of work in various cities in Peru until 1971.
She then began ministering to the sick and prisoners in Huancana, Peru, a work that would continue through 1974. During that same time she would serve as Secretary/Treasurer of the Conference of Religious in the Puno Diocese.
In 1974, she returned to the States spending two years as an administrative assistant to her congregation’s Secretariat Office at the Sisters Center. During that time, she earned a Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education at Central Islip Psychiatric Hospital, Central Islip, NY.
She returned to Peru where she served at a House of Prayer Ministry in Juli from 1977-1982. From there she moved to Lima to work with mothers’ clubs and in family catechetics in Villa El Salvador, in 1983.
She returned to Peru in 1977 where she served at a House of Prayer Ministry in Juli from 1977-1982, then worked with mothers clubs in Lima, and in family catechetics in Villa El Salvador, in 1983. Sister Bernadette then became involved in pastoral work in Lima, while also serving as administrator of her congregation’s regional house, also in Lima from 1983-1991.
In 1991, she was assigned to El Salvador. At first, she did pastoral work, a ministry that consumed her until 1993. While doing pastoral ministry, Sister Bernadette had begun to also visit AIDS patients in Rosales, the city hospital in San Salvador. In May 1993, several Maryknoll Sisters felt called to address the problem of AIDS. Sister Mary Annel, an MD, Sister Lorraine Beinkaffner, a pastoral worker, and Sister Bernadette decided to form a team, and began looking into what they could best do to address the problem of AIDS in a positive manner and in relation to the work of the church.
They chose El Salvador for AIDS prevention work because AIDS was just beginning there and effective prevention could greatly diminish the extent of any later epidemic; the prevailing “macho” culture with multiple sex partners would be fertile ground for the rapid spread of the disease; and there was very little work being done in AIDS prevention there or with people already living with HIV/AIDS and their families in El Salvador.
Sister Bernadette worked with Sisters Mary and Lorraine in this ministry for the next eight years, and then carried her work with AIDS patients and their families to Guatemala, where she specialized in hospice care for children, from 1998-2001.
In 2001, Sister Bernadette returned to the Sisters Center where she was involved in pastoral care of elderly and infirm Sisters until 2002 when she served in promotion of the congregation and its works from 2002-2009.
Presently, Sister Bernadette, lives in retirement at the Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.