Lured by Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Called by God
While a junior at Notre Dame High School, San Francisco, Aileen Marie Bermingham and a good friend volunteered at a day care center run by the Holy Family Sisters. “I’m not sure how much we helped. I think we did it for the peanut butter sandwiches,” she laughs. But later her friend decided to join the Holy Family Sisters and Aileen realized she felt drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Two months after high school graduation, Aileen moved into the SND novitiate in Saratoga. As the oldest of six children from a large and loving family, she was dogged by homesickness and remembers appreciating their down-to-earth novice director.
As a young, brand new teacher in 1952, she fell in love with her fifth-grade class at Notre Dame School in Watsonville. “They were wonderful little kids. I still remember all their names.” Later she would enjoy teaching middle and high school grades in St. Mark’s Parish School in Seattle, Notre Dame School in Chico and Notre Dame High Schools in San Francisco and San Jose.
In 1974, a phone call from Rome caused the biggest surprise of her career. She had been chosen as the Provincial Superior (the top leadership position) for the California Province. In this role she said, “I got to see the Sisters’ goodness first hand.”
One of her most fulfilling ministries was working with the elderly. For 10 years she worked at the John XXIII Center in San Jose (part of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County) which provided meals, counseling and outreach to senior citizens in the local community who needed a helping hand.
Today Sr. Aileen wears many hats: she tutors at Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose and coordinates funerals in the SND community. And as a former English teacher, she is also called upon to help keep our communications grammar perfect.