Obituary: Franciscan Sister Mary Joel (Bernice) Bieniek

Franciscan Sister Mary Joel (Bernice) Bieniek, 104, died Nov. 29 at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Francis Convent Dec. 6 at 11 a.m. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent from 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral. Masks are required. Mass will be livestreamed on YouTube:

Bernice was born on Aug. 10, 1917, near Holdingford, the 11th of 14 children born to Joseph and Agnes (Novak) Bieniek. She was accepted as a Franciscan Sister Aug. 12, 1937, and received the name Sister Mary Joel. She made first profession of vows Aug. 12, 1939, and final vows Aug. 12, 1942. She was a Franciscan Sister for 84 years.

Sister Joel received a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition with minors in social science and chemistry. She ministered as a registered dietitian in several of the Franciscan health care facilities and was an instructor in the schools of nursing in Little Falls and Breckenridge. Later for many years, she served as a traveling dietary consultant and preceptor for health care facilities in Little Falls, Breckenridge, Sauk Centre, Brainerd, Long Prairie, Onamia, Princeton, Pierz, Browerville, Park Rapids, Walker, Pine River, Clarissa and Bertha (all in Minnesota).

She is remembered for her skills of cooking, baking, making jellies and jams and canning, as well having a talent for flower and display arrangements. In her last years, while serving as sacristan, she also made flower arrangements for the convent chapel.

Sister Joel was preceded in death by siblings: John, Walter, Mary Mathe, Peter, Benedictine Sister Vianney, Franciscan Sister Grace, Joseph, Benedictine Sister Giovanni, Sylvester, Pauline Mans, Theophile, Alois and Stephen. Survivors include nieces, nephews and her Franciscan Community.

Donations preferred to Franciscan Sisters ministries.


Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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