SINSINAWA — Sister Bernita Hessling, (Mary Giovanni), died Feb. 22, 2011, at the Dominican Motherhouse, Sinsinawa, Wis. The funeral Mass was held in Queen of the Rosary Chapel at Sinsinawa Feb. 28, 2011, followed by burial in the Motherhouse Cemetery.
Sister Bernita made her first religious profession as a Sinsinawa Dominican Aug. 5, 1953, and her final profession Aug. 5, 1956. She taught for 21 years; served as director of religious education (DRE) for seven years, and associate director of religious education for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Okla., for three years. Sister Bernita ministered as pastoral administrator for 11 years; pastoral associate for nine years, four while serving as DRE; and as director of transportation for four years, interim Mound administrator for one year, and volunteer for one year at the Motherhouse, Sinsinawa. She served the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation as promoter of peace and justice for one year. She served in Illinois, Colorado, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska.
In the Diocese of Madison, Sister Bernita taught at Edgewood High School, Madison, 1974-1977, and served as the director of transportation, 1997-2001; interim Mound administrator, 2006-2007; and volunteer, 2007-2008, at the Motherhouse, Sinsinawa. She served the peace and justice promoter for the Congregation, 2008-2009.
Sister Bernita was born October 18, 1933, in Peoria, Ill., the daughter of George and Eva (Hibser) Hessling. Her parents; three sisters, Christine Wood, Theresa Hessling, and Marilyn Hessling; and a brother, George Hessling, preceded her in death. She is survived by two sisters, Dolores Hessling and Rita Turman; two brothers, Charles Hessling and John Hessling; nieces; nephews; and her Dominican Sisters with whom she shared life for 57 years.
Memorials may be made to the Sinsinawa Dominicans, 585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, WI, 53824-9701 or online at www.sinsinawa.org by clicking on "Donate to Us," then "Honors and Memorials."
Repeat broadcasts of the wake and funeral for Sister Bernita are available online at www.ustream.tv/user/Sinsinawa.