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Sister Bernadette Mary Donovan, OSF 1932-2023


Sister Bernadette Mary Donovan, OSF, passed away Aug. 25, 2023, at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse.

She was born March 19, 1932, in Utica, the daughter of Gerald and Anne O’Hare Donovan.

She entered the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany on Feb. 2, 1951; was received into the congregation on Aug. 15, 1951; and professed her final vows on Aug. 16, 1958. She joyfully lived the mission and charism of the Franciscan Sisters for over 72 years.

Sister Bernadette attended Blessed Sacrament Grammar and Utica Catholic Academy, Utica. After entering the congregation, Bernadette attended St. Elizabeth Teacher’s College, graduating from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She also received a bachelor’s degree in music with a minor in voice from Nazareth College, Rochester, and a master’s degree in theology/sacred science from St. Bonaventure University.

Sister Bernadette’s ministry in education included teaching in congregational schools in Florida, New York and New Jersey. She also served as principal at Sacred Heart as well as superior of the convent in Homestead, Fla.; Corpus Christi, Miami; St. Paul’s, St. Petersburg, Fla.; and St. Patrick’s in Catskill. Sister Bernadette also served as regional minister.

A lifelong learner, Sister Bernadette studied business/organizational management, educational administration and musical instruction. She maintained professional affiliations with educational, philanthropic and religious organizations.

She enjoyed reading, playing the piano, singing and spending time with her Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

Sister Bernadette worked part time for the St. Elizabeth Mission Society, providing assistance with administrative duties and served as the organist and liturgist for the Motherhouse.

She is survived by a brother, Father James Michael Donovan of Syracuse.

Sister Bernadette is predeceased by her parents; brothers, Msgr. William Donovan and Gerald Francis Donovan,; and sisters, Sister Mary Lourdes Donovan, and Sister Geraldine Donovan, both Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

A funeral Mass was held Sept. 2, in the chapel of St. Elizabeth Motherhouse. Burial followed in St. Bonaventure Cemetery.


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