Sister Joan Berninger, M,M,
Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center
In 1953, Joan Berninger entered the Maryknoll Sisters from Peoria, Illinois. She earned her degree in education from Rogers College in Maryknoll, NY, an M.A. degree in religious education from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and an M.A. equivalency degree in educational administration from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
A summer course in comparative religions at Otani University in Kyoto, Japan, was also good preparation for Sister Joan as a secondary school teacher of art and religion and a student career counselor on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
During her 17 years in Las Cruces, Sister Joan used her special talents as a communicator and administrator. She began there as principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral School. In an historic moment, Bishop Ramirez established the diocesan Office of Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and he chose Sister Joan to fill this job. She also served on the Sisters Council of the Diocese and was elected as coordinator for a two-year term.
She coordinated workshops on child abuse and sexual misconduct in the diocese. Sister Joan has been active in leadership and has supported the role of women wherever she has worked. She manifests a spirit of collaboration with an openness that is refreshing.
She has made herself available as representative in several General Assemblies and meetings of the Maryknoll Sisters, including serving as director of the Maryknoll Mission Institute. In 2011, Sister Joan is ending many years as our Congregational Services Coordinator. Her outreach to lay staff is inspiring and affirming.
At a luncheon in June 2011, a manager at our Center in New York told Sister Joan that “we cherish your humbling and guiding spirit and your wisdom.”
“You’ve taught us many things but most of all you taught us that when we believe in ourselves and have conviction, it’s amazing what we can accomplish; when great people work hard together, there’s great vision and accomplishments; and when we provide great service to others, the sense of fulfillment is remarkably rewarding and inspirational…and for this we are forever grateful.”
After many years of volunteering in various departments at the Marykknoll Sisters Center, Sister Joan is currently retired.