Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Sister Bernadette Mulick, CSC
(Sister M. Francetta)
October 3, 1938 – January 1, 2024
We share news of the death of Sister Bernadette Mulick, CSC, who died at 2:50 a.m. on January 1, 2024, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Bernadette Mulick entered the Congregation from Pocatello, Idaho, on August 1, 1958. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1961.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
Bernadette Mulick was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 3, 1938, but raised in Pocatello, Idaho, where she was the third oldest of eight children. Her father, Robert Francis Mulick, was a “railroader” according to his daughter. He rose to become a railroad superintendent for Union Pacific Railroad. Mary Agnes (McAndrew) Mulick and her husband raised their children in a strong Catholic family. Bernadette learned from her mother that sharing was part of being in a large family. Her daughter mirrored her mother’s kindness and generosity. Bernadette attended St. Joseph’s Grade School, staffed by Sisters of the Holy Cross. St. Joseph’s Church is now considered a chapel in the “Old Town” section of Pocatello, the parish having been merged with two others to form Holy Spirit Catholic Community in southeastern Idaho. After graduating in 1954, Bernadette went to Pocatello High School, graduating in 1958. During that time, she was a junior volunteer at the local Catholic hospital where she was known for her cheerful disposition. Bernadette applied at 19 years old to the Congregation with a recommendation from Sister M. Barbara Ann (Nolan), CSC, who wrote that Bernadette had always been devoted to the sisters and showed a personal interest in the work of Holy Cross.
The railroader’s daughter traveled by train to Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, entering the Congregation on August 1, 1958. Upon reception of the holy habit on August 15, 1959, she received her name in religion, Sister Mary Francetta, the first name in honor of the Blessed Mother and the second a feminine variation of her father’s middle name. During her years of religious formation at the motherhouse, she also prepared to be a licensed vocational nurse, finishing her training at the Practical School of Nursing in South Bend, Indiana in 1962. Her first assignment was to the new Holy Cross Hospital in San Fernando, California, from 1963 to 1965. She persisted in her desire to nurse and was sent to Salt Lake City, Utah to the Holy Cross School of Nursing that was affiliated with Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City where she completed her three-year nursing program in 1968.
Sister Francetta then returned to her baptismal name, taking advantage of a change in custom, arriving at St. Joseph’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana to begin her service as a staff nurse from 1968 to 1971. She also became a supervisor at other Holy Cross-sponsored hospitals such as Saint Agnes Hospital in Fresno, California and again at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills. While in Fresno, Sister earned a bachelor’s of science in nursing, from California State University in 1974. One assumes she encouraged co-workers to call her Sister Bernie because the familiar form of address stuck. Frankly, she liked it that way. “Everybody was a friend. She always had time to listen.” She knew the names of husbands and children of her staff. People continued to feel her presence after she moved to a new assignment at the end of 1979. At Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills, from 1979 to 1985, one of her responsibilities was infection control, always a concern in health care, but even more relevant in the context of the times.
In 1981, the first cases of HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, were reported in the United States as the precursor to AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The virus continues to be a major global health issue, having claimed over 36 million lives from 1981 to 2020. Forty years later, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition if people have access to early diagnosis and treatment. Sister Bernadette as a registered nurse was already considered an outstanding clinician who made astute observations regarding the condition of her patients. She was also skillful and practical in translating theory into practical nursing when working with patients and co-workers. In the early 1980’s, Sister Bernadette was very effective in epidemiology nursing and was engaged in outreach to persons with HIV/AIDS. Eventually, her involvement with HIV/AIDS patients in California proved invaluable when Sister was transferred to Utah as director of mission services at Holy Cross Jordan Valley Hospital in the Salt Lake City area. As Sister explained, “During the 1980s and 1990s, individuals with HIV and AIDS were the lepers of the time, and no one else was taking care of them.” Dr. Kristen Ries headed a team with nurse Maggie Snyder who helped guide Sister Bernadette and three other Holy Cross sisters, in the compassionate care of HIV/AIDS patients. The 2018 documentary film, “Quiet Heroes,” tells the full story. Dr. Ries and the Jordan Valley facility were affiliated with Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City. Former president of the Congregation, Sister Olivia Marie (Hutcheson), was ministering in the area at the time and had been very supportive of this initiative to serve the poor and underserved.
At the urging of Dr. Ries and with the approval of the Congregation, Sister Bernadette enrolled in the Utah Physician Assistant Program at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, receiving her certification in 1996. A physician assistant is a medical professional who diagnoses illness, develops and manages treatment plans, and prescribes medications for patients. Sister Bernadette was proud of her 12 years as a physician assistant in the Salt Lake City area at Jordan Valley Hospital and Rocky Mountain Care in Murray. Whatever she could do to help alleviate someone’s pain and suffering was done with joy in the name of Jesus Christ.
Nearing 73 years old and dealing with pain herself, in 2011 Sister Bernadette retired to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent in Ventura, California, and took part in their active community life for four years until her departure to the motherhouse. At Saint Mary’s she met new friends. Students from Saint Mary’s College often visited her, attracted to her youthful spirit. She had served a year in the college’s study program in Rome as support staff during the 1985-1986 academic year. Bernie kept her sense of humor, added to her social circle, and was a self-described rascal sometimes. With impish delight, Bernie said to make sure her obituary was fun. There is no joy losing her to this life, but it bears repeating that she was a hopeful, faith-filled rascal, an advocate who sought to bring a spirit of joy into the lives of those pushed to the back of the line. (I Corinthians 4: 9-10)
Sister Bernadette Mulick breathed her last at Saint Mary’s Convent in the first hours of 2024 at 85 years old, 62 years as a professed Sister of the Holy Cross. Now, she enjoys the eternal youth promised to those who would grow weary doing good in the name of God who is love. (I John 4:16)
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
Written by Sister Catherine Osimo
Sisters of the Holy Cross Archives and Records