Answering the Lord's Call

Bancroft Native Takes Final Vows

By JOANNE FOX
joannef@scdiocese.org

Sister M. Bernadette Morse, FSGM, confessed “a hundred fears” tried to steer her away from deciding to embrace the consecrated life.

“I tried to get in the way of this desire, but the Lord’s call gently persisted, leading me to come and visit the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George,” she said.FrontBernadette10-19

That call was ultimately answered as Sister M. Bernadette professed final vows with two other sisters in a ceremony that included three novices making first vows and one postulant receiving the habit, veil and new name.

The ceremony took place on Aug. 2 before Bishop Thomas John Propocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., hundreds of miles from her hometown of Bancroft, Iowa.

The daughter of Kenny Morse and Kathy Morse grew up in Kossuth County, a member of St. John the Baptist Church and graduated Columbus Academy Tutorial and attended Iowa State University for one year before hearing Christ clearly call her to enter the convent at age 19.

“I fell in love with Jesus in his eucharistic presence,” she said. “My mother was a powerful witness to me that in doing God’s will I would find my true happiness. She took my four sisters and me to Mass every day since before I can remember.”

It was during eucharistic adoration that Sister M. Bernadette found herself “captivated by the loving gaze that penetrated my heart,” Jesus, in the monstrance.

“I was pierced with joy by his love and desired to love him in return the way he loved me,” she said. “The only thing that seemed adequate in response to such a gift of love was to give him everything, belonging to Jesus as his bride.”

Sister M. Bernadette entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in 2008.

“I had visited other religious orders, but I had always felt like a guest when I was with them,” she said. “Here, I immediately felt at home and could simply be myself.”

After almost a decade, Sister M. Bernadette pointed to the charism, or spiritual mission, of this community, which had been “growing” in her heart long before any thoughts of a religious vocation.

“We are called to look upon him whom we have pierced,” she said. “In this exchange of loving looks, a new spring of living water is born in our hearts and we are sent out to make this merciful love of Christ visible to all we meet and serve.”

While in discernment, Sister M. Bernadette attended Franciscan University of Steubenville where she received a bachelor of arts degree in theology and catechetics in 2015. She currently lives in Rock Island, Ill., and teaches freshman theology at Alleman Catholic High School.

“I live with four other sisters at St. Anselm Convent in Rock Island where we also serve at St. Pius X Catholic Church in youth ministry and the religious education classes,” she said. “Oftentimes, we think that God’s call is asking so much from us, but really, he only asks us to follow him, because he wants to bestow on us a greater gift than our hearts can imagine, communion with love himself.”

The joys associated with consecrated life continue to “amaze” Sister M. Bernadette.

“Some of the greatest gifts of being a sister are the people that the Lord brings into my life, both my religious sisters and the people I meet in my apostolate,” she said. “I feel so privileged to journey with young people as they seek answers to life’s fiercest questions. I know that Christ expands my heart through every one of these encounters.”

Sister M. Bernadette clarified that her role in these experiences is minimal.

“I do nothing but belong to him, and he gives me away to his church as a sister, as a mother, as a friend wherever he wants,” she noted. “Belonging to Christ has given me a new freedom of heart that is able to find joy in every moment that life brings. Is there a greater gift than this?”