Thursday, March 23, 2023
Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Visitors are welcome; please adhere to mask and social distance guidelines while in the church.
You may view the livestreamed Mass on YouTube.
Read the memories shared at Sister Beatrice's funeral.
Sister Beatrice Pieper, CSC
(Sister M. Bonaventure)
July 1, 1933–March 17, 2023
We share news of the death of Sister Beatrice Pieper, CSC, who died at 7:15 p.m. on March 17, 2023, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Beatrice entered the Congregation from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on September 5, 1953. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1956.
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.
Sister Beatrice Pieper was the daughter of farmers. Having put her strong hands to the plow, she never looked back (Luke 9:62). As spring neared, Sister died at Saint Mary’s Convent on March 17, 2023, shortly before sunset. Sister Beatrice was 89 years old, a professed Sister of the Holy Cross for 66 years. Certainly, she was worthy of the kingdom of God.
Beatrice Josephine Pieper was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a town near the border of Wyoming, on July 1, 1933. Beatrice, her three older siblings and one younger sibling all grew up on the family farm. Their parents, Theodore Pieper and Rose Clara (Schaefer) Pieper, were devout Catholics who taught their children to love all aspects of living on a farm. Beatrice grew up milking her three cows every morning and evening and raising the yearly crop of baby chicks. “We had a wonderful farm life,” she once said. “I learned community living and working together from an early age.” She attended Sunflower Grade School and Sunflower High School, both located 10 miles northwest of Scottsbluff in Mitchell, Nebraska. After graduating high school in 1951, Beatrice began her higher education at the College of St. Mary, Omaha, Nebraska, founded by the Sisters of Mercy. On September 5, 1953, at the start of what would have been her junior year at the college, Beatrice entered instead the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame. Upon reception of the holy habit a year later, she became Sister Mary Bonaventure.
Sister Bonaventure was a teacher for 27 years. Between 1956 and 1965, she taught at several Holy Cross-sponsored elementary and secondary schools throughout California and Utah. She later became a home economics teacher in California and Utah high schools for 14 years, after earning her bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 1961. In 1966, a year prior to returning to her baptismal name, she earned her master’s degree in home economics from the College of Saint Mary of the Wasatch, Salt Lake City, Utah. Sister Beatrice’s last teaching assignment was in Santa Ana, California, where she taught at Mater Dei High School for four years. Her time at the high school was particularly interesting and rewarding, as she enjoyed being the religion teacher to seniors in the marriage preparation course. During her years in southern California, Sister Beatrice became involved in Pre-Cana conferences for engaged couples and encouraged married couples in parishes to participate in weekend retreats to strengthen their Christian marriages.
After a period of discernment, Sister Beatrice knew that God was calling her to a new ministry, saying, “I put my net on the other side of the boat” (John 21:6). In 1983, she began a parish ministry at St. Polycarp Catholic Church, Stanton, California. She trained lay people to be eucharistic ministers; taught parents in preparation for the baptism of their infants or children; and ministered to the sick and homebound. In response to the Congregation’s focus on a preferential option for the poor, she became involved in the distribution of food and clothing in the local area. Sister Beatrice was loved by many parishioners at St. Polycarp and was dearly missed when she left for Holy Family Catholic Church, Orange, California, in 1989. At Holy Family, she continued to train eucharistic ministers to serve those who were ill. She also coordinated and instructed parishioners in providing bereavement counseling and was available to accompany families in times of crisis. Sister Beatrice was grateful for the 22 fruitful years that she served the people of Orange and Stanton. In 2011, she retired to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California.
Sister Beatrice was known for her love of people. Whether it was helping a student struggling with a lesson or comforting someone grieving from a loss, her natural tendency was to walk alongside persons and to offer practical support. Sister Madeleine Marie (Clayton), CSC, remarked that if a person ever needed a shoulder rub or hug, Sister Beatrice was the person to go to. Sister Beatrice also enjoyed being outdoors, a love that was undoubtedly derived from growing up on a farm. Throughout her time living in community at Saint Catherine by the Sea, she was often seen working in the yard, either cleaning the pool, raking leaves or weeding the garden. She transitioned to a ministry of prayer and presence in 2016, when she moved to Saint Mary’s Convent. This strong, stately woman will soon be laid to rest. Those hands she extended in friendship and support are now folded in peace. O God, give her a share in what her hands have worked for (Proverbs 31:31).
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Madisen Toth, Archivist
Sisters of the Holy Cross Archives and Records