A Celebration of Life: Brother Bernie Stern, 1937-2014
CINCINNATI (January 7, 2014)—Brother Bernie Stern, 76, a native of Dayton, Ky., and a Glenmary Home Missioner for 52 years, died peacefully Jan. 5 at the St. Margaret Hall health care facility in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Brother Bernie used his talents, which included cooking and music, to serve in a range of Glenmary ministries in five states from 1965 till 1995—when he took senior membership due to declining health. As a senior member retired from assigned ministry, he found new ways to continue his missionary work.
"What stood out to me about Brother Bernie was his soft-spoken gentleness and his tremendous love of music," says Father Chet Artysiewicz, president of Glenmary. "I never heard him raise his voice or saw him lose his temper with anyone. He was a wonderful missioner."
His interest in cooking began when he was a young man helping his dad—a well-known chef in the Greater Cincinnati area—in the kitchen.
"When I joined Glenmary, they needed kitchen help," Brother Bernie remembered in 2013. "So I jumped in." He spent 12 years as Glenmary's chef, using his culinary skills for a year at the novitiate house in Aurora, Ind., and then during two longer stints at the Cincinnati residence.
He also served as an assistant and parish brother for at missions in North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky. Brother Bernie was an accomplished accordion player who shared his gift with those in the mission areas he served. He provided music at social events. But most important, he was able to play at Mass.
"Often in our small missions there isn't music to accompany the singing," he said. "So it was a blessing to have my accordion be the organ!"
During his years as a senior member, he resided in retirement communities but kept true to his Glenmary vocation to serve others. He prayed for an extended period daily—reading the Bible, meditating, praying the Rosary, simply talking to and thanking God, and praying for the intentions of his loved ones and others in need. He said prayer centered and directed him, both in keeping his missionary spirit alive and in serving his neighbors at the retirement communities and beyond.
He also spent time walking the halls of his retirement communities and talking to people. "I try to bring Christ to them...," he said in a 1997 interview. In addition, he visited with other Glenmarians living in these communities and gave periodic accordion concerts for fellow residents and employees.
"About two or three times a week, someone seeks me out and asks me for advice because they know I'm a religious brother," he said at the time. "If I don't have the answers for them right then and there, I tell them I will be praying for them because I will. Sometimes they just need someone to listen."
He also created paintings with religious themes. And after long days of lending an ear and a kind word, he closed his evenings, again, in prayer—and continued living out his life as a dedicated Glenmary missioner.
Brother Bernie is survived by his sister Mary Anne Stern of Newport, Ky., his brother Andrew of Covington, Ky., nieces, nephews, fellow Glenmary missioners and friends.
Visitation will take place Wednesday, Jan. 8, from 4:30 p.m. until the wake service at 7 p.m. in Our Lady of the Fields Chapel, 4085 Glenmary Trace, Fairfield, Ohio.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, Jan. 9, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 17 Farragut Rd., Greenhills, Ohio. Burial will follow immediately at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Cincinnati.
Memorials may be made to Glenmary Home Missioners, P.O. Box 465618, Cincinnati, OH 45246.
A digital or hard-copy photo of Brother Bernie Stern is available by contacting Glenmary's communications office at 513-881-7442.