Cover photo for S. Bernadette McGowen's Obituary
S. Bernadette McGowen Profile Photo
1934 S. Bernadette 2023

S. Bernadette McGowen

June 5, 1934 — September 25, 2023

Yankton

S. Bernadette McGowen OSB, 89, died on Monday, September 25, 2023. A wake service will be held at 7:00 PM, on Sunday, October 1, 2023 and the Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM, on Monday, October 2, both in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel in Yankton, South Dakota. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery.  Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Yankton.

Bernadette Marie was born on June 5, 1934, the seventh child of James and Rose (McGuirk) McGowen of Laurel, Nebraska. Of their nine children, only five girls survived infancy. Bernadette and her sisters formed a tight-knit bond and the family greatly valued their Catholic heritage. Bernadette began her education in a rural school in Dixon County, Nebraska, and in 1942, her family moved to Hartington, Nebraska where they attended Holy Trinity Catholic School until high school graduation. After receiving a certificate to teach, she taught at District #17 near Bow Valley, Nebraska. The following year she attended Mount Marty College to study math after entering Sacred Heart Monastery.

On June 28, 1955, S. Bernadette was invested as a novice and received the name Patricia which she later changed back to Bernadette. She made her first profession on June 29, 1956, and made her perpetual profession on June 29, 1959. She taught in Richardton, North Dakota after first profession and then at St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Her experience in Chamberlain gave her valuable knowledge about Native culture that helped to shape her future. She also taught in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Later she earned a MAT in Math Education from Colorado College.

In 1973, she answered a request to minister on Crow Creek Reservation. The next year, S. Bernadette moved to Standing Rock Reservation where there was a greater need. Here she had no job description and simply did what needed to be done. S. Bernadette began many programs during these years, laying a solid foundation. In 1978, she went back to teaching at Menominee and Atkinson, Nebraska, and Salem, South Dakota. She also worked in the business office at the monastery before she was called to minister to the homeless. S. Bernadette worked at St. Francis House in Sioux Falls and later managed a shelter in Crookston, Minnesota for several years. She also ministered in Morton, Minnesota.

S. Bernadette was a champion for the poor and downtrodden. She loved being with people who were honest and struggled in life. She really missed working with people when she could not teach or minister to those in need. She had a creative side and enjoyed sewing, quilting, and the companionship of a good quilting bee in her later years.

S. Bernadette is survived by her Benedictine Sisters and many nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents and all her siblings.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of S. Bernadette McGowen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Wake Service

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Starts at 7:00 pm

Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel

1005 W 8th St, Yankton, SD 57078

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Mass

Monday, October 2, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am

Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel

1005 W 8th St, Yankton, SD 57078

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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