Monday, February 9, 2009

Memories of Sr. Bernice from the Novitiate Baker


I loved working with Sr. Bernice in the bakery during the Novitiate. Working with the dough was often a lesson in following her lead, if you could follow the language. I learned that checking the horizon was to check the loaves of bread rising in the proofing room. I also needed to check the heavens, the clock high up on the wall, to know when the farm was arriving aka the Land O’Lakes milk truck. Later, when rolling out the dough I was often reminded to squinch the larger bubbles out of the dough. I knew all was right with the work when she would just simply nod and keep going; if she stepped over to poke the dough with her crooked finger and look up at me, then I had work to do. Near the end of the Novitiate, I knew I had made a fast friend…I was now answering to the phrase “Ah, My very good friend.”

Coming home from school for breaks or for the summer included lunch or baking with Bernice and Sr. Kathy. As two of her favorites from Bakery, she would treat us to a little fresh pizza made from her own dough crust or dumplings that were part steamed part browned in oleo. More recently, it was Kathy and I taking Bernice out for pizza. All during the lunch, Bernice discussed the affairs of the world both monastic and secular, and she had a fair few opinions on each.

Sr. Bernice loved kids including all my nieces. The night before my final vows celebration, Bernice was at my family celebration in the Cyber CafĂ©. Grace had climbed up on her lap to ‘visit’ and Bernice tried to take off for a ride with her on the cart. Virginia was there to suggest that Grace wasn’t quite ready for cart rides and Bernice settled for visiting with Lisa and her girls.

This year I was praying for Sr. Bernice. I reminded her when giving her the card that while I was praying for her, she had better be praying for me. “Oh, ya, ya”, and a chuckle was her only response. I know she’ll keep up her end of the deal.


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