IV. Mary Elizabeth Moran,
Sister Joseph Bernadette
Mary was the first daughter of the Moran household. She made her appearance at the Moran home at 66 Gates Street in South Boston, Massachusetts on April 20, 1915.
Mary Moran at about age 18 >
Mary was a worker bee, working hard to help her mother care for the other children. She also babysat other peoples children like the Carey's. She and her brother John were of similar ilk and bonded early doing their respective chores in the household. Their bond spanned the years and was still evident in Mary's comments about him to John's son Gerard during a visit in 1995, nearly twenty years after John's death.
On August 15, 1933, Mary along with her cousin Helen from the "down the street" Morans, Theresa Walsh and Mildred Manning, all from the neighborhood and attending St. Margaret's school, joined the Sisters of Charity, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
As mentioned earlier, this was somewhat of a surprise to her father who was very upset his first daughter was leaving home. Mary was professed and took the name Sister Joseph Bernadette on Easter Sunday, April 26, 1933. She then was assigned teaching duties at Saint Peter's School right in Dorchester near the family. She taught boys most of the time because she was tough enough to handle them. She was at St. Peter's until 1950 when she was transferred to Saint Michael's School in Andover, Massachusetts. In 1954, her order called her to the Star of the Sea Convent in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she served until 1965.
All during this time, Sister wrote and recieved letters to and from the family. She singled out those who seemed to be more in need than others and kept up a correspondence with them until the need passed. This may have been a niece or nephew away from home at a school, or a brother or nephew posted overseas.
For my family, the John Moran family, when we were living in Japan, Sister's letters were read out loud at the family dinner the night they arrived. While others wrote from time to time, Sister Jospeh Bernadette was our one constant link with the Moran family in Boston, keeping us abreast of family news. We didn't always get read the whole letter. Whatever there was in those extra parts gave, my mother particularly, and my father a touch of what they needed to handle a problem. Be that a death in the family or some personal matter, Sister could reach all the way from her island of Nova Scotia to ours on Kyushu, Japan and say/write the words that soothed the homesick blues. The fact that she was doing this for others as well did not diminish one iota what she did for us.
Sister's next two assignments were with two Saint Patricks. She was at St. Patrick's School in Lawrence, Massachusetts and then St. Patricks Scool in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1972 she was sent back to Dorchester were she was assigned to teach at St. Kevin's School. Sister was there until 1992 when she retired to the St. Vincent convent at Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. St. Vincent's is more than a convent, it has a hospital and is where the nuns of her community go when they are in need of care.
Sister Joseph Bernadette, though 77 years old was not in need of care, she was there to assist in helping the older nuns. She celebrated her 60th, Jubilee, anniversary of her vows on April 12, 1986 together with those others from the neighborhood who went with her in 1915, Sister Helen Moran, who assisted this genealogy, Sister Regina Theresa Walsh and Sister Mildred Manning. They all lived there. Passing from those who gave care to those who received it.
Sister Joseph Bernadette, as of the writing of this entry, is among the caregivers at 82 years of age. In the last few years she has made two trips to Texas and one to Ireland to visit family.
Sister JB in Decatur, Texas in 1994.
Sister Joseph Bernadette in Katy, Texas in 1996.
Mary Moran, Sister Joseph Bernadette, has been most helpful both in what she provided and prodded others to provide in the writing of this genealogy. Though this effort is dedicated to her mother, it is as much a result of her work as it has been of Gerard Moran, Kae Sullivan or Sister Mary Moran, the primary people behind this gift. Sister was not able to pass on somethings about the family because she, herself, was gone from Boston for much of the time. But, she was able to lend that indomitable spirit to later generations.
This section written by Kae (Moran) Sullivan and Gerard Moran.
The Eulogy given by Mary (Sullivan) Young at Sister Joseph Bernadette's funeral -
Mary Elizabeth Moran was born April 21st 1915, the 4th of 11 children. Being the
oldest daughter in an Irish family she naturally was called Mary. At that time, the
family lived on Gates Street in South Boston, MA.
The family moved to Harbor View Street in Dorchester in 1917. They were the Down the
Street Morans, as John, Patrick Morans brother lived up the street.
In 1918, Rita, Marys younger sister was born with cerebral palsey. This was
significant, as her need for constant care meant Mary had added responsibilities in
caring for her younger brothers and sisters as she grew. This helped prepare her for
the profession she would choose as an adult. It did not prevent Mary for enjoying
sports, as a participant, not an observer. She was very close to her brother John,
and enjoyed playing football with him.
Mary attended Catholic schools all her life from grammar school at St. Margarets, to
graduating from St. Ritas in 1932, all under the guidance of the Sisters of Charity.
On Easter Sunday, 1933, Mary and three Harbor View neighbors entered the convent.
Helen Moran, her cousin from the Up the street Morans became Sr. Francis Vincent,
Mary Walsh became Sr. Regina Terese, and Mildred Manning became Sr. Mildred Joseph.
Mary took the name, Sr. Joseph Bernadette. It is a common belief that Dorchester and
St. Margarets Parish in particular were largely responsible for the vast majority of
sisters entering the Order of the Sisters of Charity for many years.
John, Marys brother was not happy about her decision to join the convent. He was
afraid it would change her. He neednt have worried. Sr. Joseph Bernadettes first
assignment was St. Peters in Dorchester. She taught elementary boys and was often
seen playing football with robes and beads flying.
St. Michaels in Andover came next followed by Terrance Bay, Nova Scotia. She loved
it there, swimming in the frigid Atlantic, with the whales, and teaching the children
of the local fisherman even though it was in a public school with restrictions. Next
was St. Patricks in Lawrence, where she served with Father Rouse, here today co-
celebrating the mass with Father Domerat. Fr. Rouse told a story of he and Sr. J.B.
bringing the children out for singing on St. Patricks day to the primarily non-irish
community at the suggestion of the monsignor. He and Sr. J.B. hid in the bus while
the kids were out singing and then they hurried the children on board to get back
home. St. Patricks, Roxbury and St. Kevins, in Uphams Corner, Dorchester were her
next two assignments. Both were inner city parishes where she worked in very tenuous
times. Busing and community unrest made it challenging and my sister Kate and I
talked about taking her home on numerous occasions and her wanting to walk us back to
our cars instead of us taking her to the convent door. Her students nicknamed her
Sister Sarge. We all affectionately called her Sr. J.B.
From 1933 until she retired in the 1990s, Sr. J. B. experienced a lot of changes. In
1940, when her father died, the family had to hold the funeral until Sr. could return
from Nova Scotia. It was very difficult for her not to be able to spend time with the
family during this time. When my mother, Kae got married in 1949, Sr. was not
permitted to attend the ceremony so my mother went to the convent to see her. While
serving in Terrance Bay, Sr. J. got special permission to have lunch with her sister
Kae and family. This was a huge occasion. Then in the 1960s things really changed.
Vatican II called for reform within the church. Sister liked the slight change in
habit, no more wagon-train type veil; they adopted a smaller version and smaller
collar. Several years later, out went the habit and in came the skirt with a very
modest veil. Sr. never totally adjusted to the secular look and always wore a navy
skirt and jacket and her veil. Sr. J. met all these challenges with obedience,
fortitude, compassion and grace. She always had a smile on her face and I never heard
In more recent years the huge decline in vocations greatly affected Sr. J.B. and the
community. It would be an understatement to say teaching changed a lot from 1933 to
the 70s. There were fewer and fewer sisters to replace those retiring and lay
teachers began to outnumber the religious. These changes in addition to changing
social attitudes made for many challenges. However, the more relaxed ways also
allowed Sr. J. B. to spend more time with her family, especially her aging mother and
her sister Rita. Her mother died here also, at Mount St. Vincent in 1982. There was
freedom to travel and Sr. J. enjoyed vacations down the Cape with her friends and also
a trip to Ireland with her sister, Eileen and niece, Rosemary. She particularly loved
to dance. In later years she helped with the elderly sisters here at Mount St.
Vincent. I said to her once, You know this is going to come back to you. and she
responded, I hope so. She was predeceased by 8 of her siblings. Only her sisters
Catherine and Eileen survive.
One of my favorite Books of the Bible is the Book of Esther. In chapter 4 verse 14,
scripture speaks about being born for such a time as this. I believe Sr. Joseph was
born for such a time as this. She was a loving daughter, a wonderful sister, a great
aunt, and a fun-loving cousin. She was born into our family, but she chose your
family, the Sisters of Charity. With you, she was an instrument of Gods hand on this
earth. You allowed her to live her passion; to minister to others. She was a doer of
Gods Word. We, thank you all, very, very much for being her family and her friends,
and helping her to fulfill her calling.
Mary (Sullivan) Young is the daughter of Kae (Moran) Sullivan and Jim Sullivan
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..............................................................................Sister Joseph Bernadette, photo taken by Bob Moran
.............................................at his home in Katy, Texas