Sister Mary Angelita Conk, CSJ
Sister Angelita was one of five children born to Mary and Thomas Conk. Angelita was a Brooklyn girl who attended Holy Cross School in Flatbush, and then Saint Joseph’s High School, Bridge Street. Immediately after high school graduation, she entered our Congregation in September 1944. Sister Angelita lived her 79 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, in deep faith and total commitment to God and to the dear neighbor. For 57 of those years, Sister Angelita devoted herself to elementary and secondary education, both as a teacher and administrator throughout both the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre Dioceses; and for the last twenty-two years before her well-deserved retirement in 2003, she was the bursar at Sacred Heart Academy, Hempstead.
I was fortunate to meet Sister Angelita when I first entered the community and was living at St. Joseph’s College Convent where she would come to visit her sister, our beloved, deceased, Sister Leonie. I remember her visits and was struck by her quiet graciousness. I caught up with her 50 years later when she was in retirement at Sacred Heart Convent and was again struck by that same graciousness and hospitality that were the hallmarks of her life.
In a world where attention to detail, and to the small things that make life more livable are often overlooked, Sister Angelita was a standout for the care and concern she offered to everyone she met. Our congregation has been richly blessed by her presence and now depends on her intercession as she enjoys the eternal life God promised to Angelita and all his faithful servants.
Sister Maura Costello, a friend and former Regional Superior of Sister Angelita has written a reflection which she has asked me to read.
Reflection by Sister Maura Costello, CSJ
What a pleasure it has been these last few days to reflect on S. Angelita Conk/Aunt Bernadette.
Her lovely face and gracious smile was, and always will be a joy to remember. Going back, my visits to Sacred Heart brought great delight, especially my encounters with Angelita who was always the welcoming, Sister of St. Joseph, living our Charism of hospitality. Her “charge” as Guest Mistress, was perfect for her, as she prepared the room for any over-night visitor.
When Mike and Trish shared with Aunt Bernadette, that after visiting Santa with their children in Hershey, PA, they stayed at a hotel where each child found two (2) Hershey Kisses on their bed. The next time Mike stayed at the Conk home, guess what, when he turned down the bed, there were two (2) kisses for Mike. Aunt Bernadette just happened to have them in the car! Mike saved one of those Hershey Kisses for his aunt’s final pillow!
I never got a Hershey Kiss when I stayed over at Sacred Heart. We’ll talk about that, Angelita!
Angelita was quietly strong as witnessed when her beautiful older sister Leonie became ill and finally was called home to God in 2009. Angelita was ever present to her through those difficult days, as were Mary Ellen and all the family.
As the youngest in her family, “Bernadette” was spoiled by her three (3) brothers, but from that she learned how to care for, be interested in, and just genuinely love all who became a part of her life. Her aides, nurses, and all at Sacred Heart Convent had a great fondness for this peace-filled, wise woman. Her prayerfulness and gifts of the Holy Spirit touched everyone’s life.
One story recently recalled was of a Sister at Sacred Heart who was finding difficulty deciding whether to leave or stay at Sacred Heart. She asked Angelita, “What do you think?” Having prayed about this and after some more discussion the Sister still couldn’t decide, so Angelita made the wise decision for her. “You are staying here!” and this seemed to be the right call.
Angelita was a woman of gratitude especially for her family and community, and those who shared life with her in administrative and caring ways at Sacred Heart.
Angelita’s ministry in education spanned many years. Her specialty in the area of Business and Commercial subjects enhanced her giftedness as a teacher and her ability as Administrator and Principal through the years enriched the lives of many students.
One student learned an interesting lesson: he was a typical boy creating and flying paper airplanes, one of which hit a Sister in her head. Well, he never did that again after his assignment by the principal, Sister Angelita, was to make 100 airplanes and write on each on “I will not throw planes in school.”
The family loved visiting Angelita when she lived at St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor. There would be a fifteen-minute visit followed by a swim, and no worry about parking.
Angelita learned from Mike that your computer can’t get a virus if it is not connected to the internet! Well, she surely learned and shared much more in her years in education and service to her Sisters in the Convent.
Angelita/Aunt Bernadette, may you now enjoy your heavenly home with all the love of life you shared with us, and much more.
Thank you for being you
Sister Mary Angelita Conk, CSJ died on April 30, 2023 in the 79th year of her religious life.