Sr. Bernadette Naughton: 70 Years in Ministry
Sr. Bernadette's principal ministry throughout her religious life was in health care. She was a registered nurse in acute care hospitals for 21 years and later a hospital administrator for 18 years in long term care facilities in Toronto and Winnipeg. Throughout these years, she studied part time at U. of T. taking post graduate courses in various aspects of nursing and later hospital administration.
"I enjoyed all aspects of this ministry. The biggest adjustment came in 1954 when I was stationed at St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox, B.C. on Vancouver Island. Up to then I had only nursed in big city hospitals such as St. Joseph's near Sunnyside in Toronto and St. Michael's in downtown Toronto. The Comox hospital was less than 100 beds. This was a big change but I learned to love it. In fact, I used to hope the Community would forget about me and leave me there. B.C. was so beautiful."
In Comox, there was only one x-ray technician. So after a full day's work, Sr. Bernadette studied at night in preparation to write the qualifying exams as a registered x-ray technician for Canada and the USA. In this way she was available to do relief work when the regular technician wasn't available.
When asked what were some favourite memories for her throughout her 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. Bernadette recalled the following. "In Winnipeg, we lived in an ordinary house. Up to that time, I had always lived in a convent which was a wing of the hospital where I was nursing. In Winnipeg I had to learn to cook and we drove to work. That was new. Also, we had lovely neighbours who were very friendly and protective of us. One time, when I was climbing up a ladder to pick apples from our tree, the neighbour called across, "Be careful, I don't want you girls getting hurt." It was things like that that made it so homey."
When asked for a high point in the past years, without hesitation, Sr. Bernadette talked about her Sabbatical Year at CREDO at the University of Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. Here she studied Scripture in preparation for a month long trip to the Holy Land. "Actually walking on very ground where Jesus walked and visiting spots that He frequented, this opened the Gospels for me in a way that I had not experienced before. It was so enriching. It was like a dream come true. I continue to treasure that year still."
Sr. Bernadette moved many times throughout her 70 years as a sister. Before moving to Morrow Park where she has lived for the past 20 years, she moved back and forth among our then six health care centers staying anywhere between one year and nine years. These moves involved adjustments and openness to change. There were other things that were difficult such as overseeing the passing on of St. Joseph's Residence in Winnipeg to another Congregation because our declining numbers. Throughout these many years, Sr. Bernadette stated clearly that it was prayer and faith in God's presence in all the changes that was her anchor. And so looking towards the future, she faces the coming years with the same trust in God's goodness to her and to the Sisters of St. Joseph and all our various ministries.
By Theresa Rogers CSJ