60 Years of Sisterhood

Happy Anniversary to the "Mother of the Lancers"!

60 Years of Sisterhood

Julie Pasquale

Abby Anderko, Editor-in-Chief

This September, one of the pillars of Saint John Vianney, Sister Bernadette Larsen, celebrated 60 years of joining the vocation of sisterhood. Sister Bernadette has been with the Saint John Vianney community since it opened its doors in 1969.

Sister “B” as she is called, is a member of the Marianites of the Holy Cross, a religious order dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. The Marianites, throughout their history, have been associated with not only schooling, but also the welfare and education of young people. Beginning as laywomen assisting in the education and care of young people in France, the Marianites have since adopted a mission of assisting those in their communities, especially in schools.

From a young age, Sister Bernadette has seen the positive effect of the Marianites of the Holy Cross. Since her father died when she was only 13 months old, she was raised primarily by her mother in the Bronx, NY. Because of this, her mother sent her to a boarding school that was run by the Marianites, forming her deep connection to them and their cause. Sister “B” recalled her time at the school, and especially with the sisters saying, “There was always something about them that I liked…Their caring for the students… I always thought to myself that I wanted to do something like that.”

After entering into the sisterhood, Sister “B” worked in the Marianite owned St. Louis Academy in Staten Island. Unfortunately, shortly after Sister “B” joined the school community, the Marianites could no longer afford to keep the school open. Because of her desire to keep assisting in the education of children, in 1969 Sister decided to take the opportunity to come to Holmdel, NJ and assist in the opening of a new Catholic school. Since that day, Sister “B”  has been an influential member of the Saint John Vianney community.

“The Mother of the Lancers,” as she is known, has held many positions in the school over the years. From the Dean of Students, to Bookkeeper, Guidance Counselor, and currently as Student Information Systems Manager, Sister “B” has always had a leadership role in the  education of the students at SJV. In the words of Patti Mascolino, who worked with Sister in the first years of the school, “Sister’s desire to remain and make the school strong is a HUGE help to the administration. She’s the go-to lady. She has a way of getting things done.”

According to Margaret Burns, a guidance counselor and member of the first graduating class, Sister is the first thing the alumni ask about. “How is Sister Bernadette?” is what they will ask her. This shows the impact that Sister “B”  has had on the lives of all of the students that go through SJV.

Burns remarked,“kids are afraid of her, we were back then a little bit, but over time we just learned that she was a big bear, a big teddy bear.” When remembering some of her first classes Sister “B” said “I always had the boys, because the boys and girls were separate, but I always had the boys. One day, one of the boys came up to me and said “you come off like a lion but you are really a teddy bear.” Though Sister “B” has always held a title of authority, her students know that she was always there to support them and assist them in any way she can.

Sister Bernadette has been instrumental in making SJV the successful school it is today. As a founding member and pillar at SJV, she is a very important member of the SJV community and we celebrate not only her commitment to education, but her continued devotion to the vocation of sisterhood. Congratulations Sister “B”!