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Bernetta Booms, IHM

Sister Bernetta Booms, IHM, 96, died Wednesday, Oct. 4, at home, the IHM Senior Living Community.

Harriet M. Booms joined the family of Joseph and Dorothy (Scholtz) Booms in Harbor Beach, Michigan, on July 10, 1927, which eventually grew to a family of 10 children. She attended Ashmore School and graduated from Our Lady of the Lake High School. Three weeks before her 18th birthday, she entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and received the religious name, Sister Bernetta.

Sister Bernie, as she was known, began a teaching ministry with early grades at St. Joseph, Monroe, Blessed Sacrament, Detroit and St. John the Evangelist, Fenton. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Marygrove College, she was missioned to Santa Teresita, Santurce, Puerto Rico (1957) to teach second grade. The teaching life in Puerto Rico was very affirming as Sister Bernie continued to teach junior high at Convento de la Merced and La Merced, Cayey, for 15 years! During this time, she earned a master’s degree from Berry College, Miami. Along with teaching, she took on whatever tasks were needed: cooking for missioned sisters in community, driving and companioning, and being present with the local parish. Truly, “a Bernie” of all trades and a testament to her upbringing in St. Anthony parish and farms of Harbor Beach.

In 1972, Sister Bernie transitioned to pastoral and prayer ministries in Grenada, West Indies. In the Diocese of St. George, she ministered at The Hilarion Leonard Cheshire Home, a home for the disabled and elderly in St. Patrick Parish. Almost 10 years later, Sister Bernie returned to Michigan and the IHM Motherhouse in 1982. After 40 years of mission work, she participated in the Washington Mission Seminar sponsored by the United States Catholic Mission Association for returning missionaries.

As a Motherhouse resident, Sister Bernie continued to address visible needs. She served her community, assisting sisters with daily activities as a driver and companion and eventually coordinating all transportation needs for the Motherhouse community.

When she retired in 2000, she continued to live independently on campus and volunteered as she was able. As her health declined, she sought continuing care in the campus health care center. Her journey was accompanied by visits from family, her many community friends and staff.

Sister Bernie is survived by sisters Margaret Goniwiecha, Shirley Suida and Audrey Huska and many nieces and nephews; preceded by siblings John A., Ronald, Magdalen, Helen, Stella, Catherine, Shirley and Audrey.

Read Sister Bernetta’s Remembering here.