Obituary: Sister Mary Bernadette, M.I.C.M.

Sister Mary Bernadette Maluf, M.I.C.M. (January 8, 1920 – December 16, 2011), founding member of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Prioress of Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire, and educator died on Friday, December 16, at the age of 91.

Mary Kathleen Healy Maluf (her name before entering the convent) was born in Detroit, Michigan, the only child of Dr. Gaillard and Mrs. Patricia Healy. She attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, taking a B.A. in education. For three years, she taught in Catholic schools in Michigan.

She married Dr. Fakhri Maluf of Beirut, Lebanon, in 1943.

In 1949, Mary became one of the pioneer members of Father Leonard Feeney’s religious Order, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As has happened in rare cases in the Church’s history, by mutual consent, both Dr. Maluf and Mrs. Maluf took religious vows and lived separately in the monastery and convent, where they were known respectively as Brother Francis and Sister Mary Bernadette. Both participated in the educational and missionary work of the fledgling Congregation.

Moving from Still River, Massachusetts to Richmond, New Hampshire in 1988, Sister Mary Bernadette was instrumental in the founding of Saint Benedict Center, Richmond, and the Center’s  Immaculate Heart of Mary School. Besides teaching in the school, she was its principal for ten years. She was also active in the community’s missionary work until December of 2003.

Sister Mary Bernadette is survived by her children, Mariam Maluf of Leominster, MA., Peter Maluf, of Worcester, MA., Leonard Maluf, of Leominster, MA., Sister Anna Maria Maluf, M.I.C.M., of Vienna, OH, and Agnes Malouf-Hood of Halifax, Nova Scotia; and by one grand-daughter, July Anne O’Brien, of Los Angeles, CA. The religious Brothers and Sisters at Saint Benedict Center will mourn her as their beloved Sister in Christ.

Sister Mary Bernadette will be waked in the chapel of Saint Benedict Center on Fay Martin Road in Richmond, New Hampshire on Wednesday, December 21 from 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM.

The funeral will be a sung Requiem Mass in the traditional Latin Rite, offered by the Reverend David Phillipson at Saint Joseph Church in Hinsdale. The Mass will be Thursday, December 22, at 11:00 AM, with a Rosary preceding at 10:30.

  • Lionel Andrades

    I wish to extend my sympathies. I can understand how important her work was for the community there and for the church at large.

  • Thank you very much, Lionel.

  • John Chabot

    Words seem but a clumsy tool at times like these. Such an edifying life for so many others to imitate, such a holy death for so many others to desire.

    I personally owe the first generation of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary a great debt of gratitude.

    Others have labored. We will enter in to their labors. I often thought that the conversion of the United States would take place only after the first generation of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had all gone to their eternal reward.

  • Brian G. de la Torre

    May the foundation that her life’s labors helped to lay continue to serve as a robust support for the edifice still under construction, and may we all look back at her fortitude and constancy as a model for our own efforts during our trials yet to come. May she rest in peace. It was a real privilege to have known her. For those of us who were not around early enough to have known Fr. Feeney or Sister Catherine Clark, we can take some consolation in recognizing a shadow of their lives in those of Brother Francis and Sister Mary Bernadette. In this way, we can more easily see how our good religious are our contemporary “windows” into the lives of the very Apostles and by extension, even Our Lord and Our Lady. By the infinite mercy of God in His providence, we have been given the great gift of the lives of these fine, founding members of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May we, then, rise to the occasion in like manner. There is much work yet to be done…

  • Sylvia Faye

    My husband and I had the pleasure of a day at the Benedict Center with Doug Bersaw and Br. Francis…and a long afternoon of conversation with the two of them and Father.  We were invited to stay for dinner, which we did, but had a long drive back to Cape Cod that evening.  We saw dear Sr. Mary Bernadette and her sweet smile.  Both Br. Francis and Sr. Mary Bernadette had the secret of a life lived in conformity with Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.
    We never forgot this ‘moment in time when we had the peace and joy of Christ’ with the Brothers and Sisters there.  We loved them and pray for them and mourned when Br. Francis died and we mourn the loss of this true soul of Jesus and Mary.  May her soul and all the souls of the Faithful departed rest in peace.
    ~Sylvia Faye