Sister Marie Bernadette Fields, 65, teacher

July 07, 2006

Sister Marie Bernadette Fields, who visited the sick and homebound in Carroll County for more than 20 years, died of a brain tumor Saturday at her order's motherhouse in Baltimore County. She was 65.

Born Ellen Louise Fields in Cumberland, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1961. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and a master's in early childhood education at Hood College.

She taught at parochial elementary schools in Frederick, Frostburg and Hagerstown before moving to Westminster in 1980 and becoming vice principal of St. John's parochial school, where she also taught.

After a year, she left the classroom and became pastoral health care minister for 4,500 registered families of the St. John's Roman Catholic parish.

"I thought it would be more demanding to give up teaching and take on the assignment," said the Rev. Leo Patalinghug, a priest at St. John's. "She went into a real grass-roots ministry, and it only gave her more energy."

She visited the sick and dying in hospitals, nursing homes and private residences. She also established a training program so other parish volunteers could help with the work.

"In the previous year when attending the dying, she was accustomed to whisper to them, `Save a seat up there for me,'" said Sister Bernice Fellinger, also a member of her order.

After her brain tumor was diagnosed last year, Sister Marie Bernadette moved to the order's health care center at Villa Assumpta, 6401 N. Charles St., where a Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday.

Survivors include a sister, Elizabeth Nedobeck of Deland, Fla.

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