In her senior year at Notre Dame High School, Belmont, Ann Bernadette “Bernie” Barnes was approached by one of the Sisters who taught at the school, “I hear you’re going to enter.” Becoming a nun was NOT in her plan however and she went off to San Jose State University for her freshmen year. But during the year, she continued to keep in touch with a Sister and it was through her encouragement and Ann’s growing attraction to a life of prayer that eventually moved her to join the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Sr. Bernie remembers making her first vows on a Saturday and on the following Monday she was teaching a fifth grade class at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Alameda. After years of teaching and serving in administration, mostly in high schools, including seven years at Notre Dame High School in San Francisco and six years at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, she moved into communications for the Diocese of San Francisco. Switching gears in 1983 Sister went to work for the Emergency Housing Consortium in San Jose.
Seven years in Massachusetts gave Sister one her favorite experiences–teaching English as a Second Language (E.S.L.) and coordinating a high school diploma program. “Adults are so eager to learn, and,” she says with a chuckle, “there are no discipline problems!” Ricardo was one of the many adults she taught. In 2007, Ricardo wrote Sister, “My life has been changing a lot for the better, thanks to your dedication and patience…encouraging me to give the best of myself. As a result of it, I continue my education… I am working on my associates degree! You always will be a role model in my life.”
When Sr. Bernie moved back to California she became one of the pioneers in establishing a Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento where she taught students and mentored teachers.
Sister now lives at the Province Center in Belmont and teaches E.S.L. at a Catholic Worker House in Redwood City.
At her 60th year of being a Sister of Notre Dame, Bernie shared, “I am grateful for the enjoyment of teaching, the students who have enriched my life, the co-workers who believed in and valued the ministry we were engaged in and the wide range of educational experiences.”