- 89 years old
- Date of birth: Nov 21, 1924
- Date of passing: Feb 9, 2014
|Let the memory of Sr. Bernadette be with us forever|
This website was created in memory of our loved one, Sister Mary Bernadette Little RSM, 89, former principal of the Convent of Mercy (Alpha) Academy in Kingston, Jamaica, an inspiration to thousands of young ladies , who was born on November 21, 1924 and passed away on February 9, 2014. We will remember her forever.
"Macaulay Hall, assembly, 8:30 a.m., better not be late, morning hymn, Sr.Bernadette and her dispatch for the day "girls be strong leaders...strong women." This often repeated proclamation was a decree that defined our vital high school years and shaped our future roles in life. She bequeathed a precious legacy that endures from generation to generation. Lois Eames-Valliant"
"Sister Bernadette, You are missed and cherished. We celebrate this day of your birth and also your life, which has influenced the lives of so many-- your Alpha 'children' and others. Rest well and watch over us."
"My Dear Auntie Bernadette,
Your kind, selfless heart, and your unending love for your family will always be remembered. I am blessed to have had you as my blood.. Thank you for being someone so many people could look up to."
"* ☆ * From our book of memories, we have you on every page * ☆ *"
"Our personal morning ,afternoon and evening conversations.....priceless and precious moments"
"A leader by example par excellence.
So calm with a good sense of humour & a strong sense of responsibility & she held steadfast to her belief in Christ."
"Sister Mary Bernadette Little, RSM., The first time I saw you was at Christ the King Chapel, with a long line of Girls from the Boarding School, ready to enter the chapel for Sunday Mass. You were so poised, with grace, and charm. Our eyes met and I you penetrated the essence and fiber of my being. I felt a little intimidated, but I wanted to be like you: strong, smart and proud!
One day, I happened to be at the convent entrance just wandering, and you and sister Shirley were talking and it so happened that we ended up playing scrabble. And you never showed off your intellect, you were gentle with this little young boy from Alpha and you gave me courage to the point of challenging your word: CINQUE; and you won the challenge and I learned a new word.
Sister, you embedded in me that I can do and be anything I want to do or be by your example.
Finally, I was very happy to represent the Alpha Old Boys' from the U.K. and the U.S. at your Vespers at Alpha and the beautiful Mass of Christian Burial at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity.
Sister, you have fought the good fight and the Father calls you to your rest! Sleep on Beloved!"
"Sister B taught us to be ladies. "Walk from your knees not from your hips". Skirts to your knees. Times may have changed. But those of us who had Sister B as a teacher and a headmistress will always remember her stern but loving attitude. RIP Sister,you ran a good race. Enjoy your heavenly rewards."
"For all of her girls, our Sister Bernadette certainly set the gold standard of excellence in academic work, moral principles, good manners and physical comportment (of course)! As the years go by, the legacy of Alpha Academy and its unparalleled teachers under Sister Bernadette’s guidance becomes clearer in our lives. For my sister Joyce and myself, meeting Sister B. again in 2000 as adults for the Millennium Reunion, classes of 1961 & 1962, will always be a treasured memory. Thank you dear Sr. Bernadette for being one of the first mentors who taught us Anderson sisters to aspire to the highest we are capable of, while honoring the small and meaningful things of life.
With deepest appreciation and affection from Evadne, Joyce [John], Carol, Rosemond [Squirewell] Rosalie [Blair] and Patricia"
"Sister Bernadette was a disciplinarian and a great mentor. She has left a great legacy behind in her students. Everyone has something good to say in what she has done for them. I can say for me, I have become a leader in my own rights, thanks to Sister B. May she shine above with the angels."
"I was sad to learn of your passing. You were an inspiration to me & I always felt good when we ran into each other from time to time & you would call me by name even when years had past. I remember how much you laughed when you caught me imitating one of the teachers. I remember how you supported me when a teacher was unfair in her dealings with me. I am sure you are in a very peaceful place, smiling & happy & I hope that your final days were painless. God bless you."
"When U and N unite we are faced with a prefix that gives a negative force to adjectives while elevating unity as the key to the ultimate outcome. Like the umbilical cord, that connects a baby in the womb to its mother, Sister Bernadette would be my umbilical cord that would connect this child and education, the unbreakable cycle that defined my ulterior motive that lied beyond what is evident or revealed. Ushered to her office where words would seek to persuade me that my ultimate goal would lie where further analysis could not be made. My knowledge would never be underrated, my uniqueness would be uplifting, my character defined as uppity and my life journey would leave an understanding and allow others to have the utmost respect for the way I crossed the finish line. Remain In Perfection Sister Bernadette all is well in Gods embrace"
"After my first year at Alpha (1980-81) I realised that when I got to school in the mornings I did not leave my mother at home. Sister B reminded me so much of my mother. A great disciplinarian! All her lectures, advice and discipline eventually paid off.
While working at Norman Manley Airport in 2002 I saw Sister B enter the Immigration Hall. I ran and greeted her and asked "do you remember me?". "Of course, you're the lady who changed her surname in 5th form". I couldn't believe it. This was 17 years after I left CMA and she still remembered.
A beautiful lady. She still is synonymous with the name Alpha. She has been etched in our minds and hearts and so will not be forgotten."
"Instilling discipline evokes mixed emotions, but in the end the joy of knowing you did your job is the greatest reward. It is by no means an easy task; yet, Sister B did it with such grace, passion, humility and sincerity, day after day. Her life stands forever as a great example of the true meaning of commitment to God, ”being able to do what you are called to do and always acting in love.” To God be the glory......Class of 1984"
"We have come full circle in our appreciation for our beloved Sister Bernadette. When we were school girls, we would often quake in our shoes whenever she was coming near, as she was always such an imposing figure.
However, despite my 'fear and awe', I found her to be very loving and kind. She saw worth in me when I never even saw it in myself, and elected me a dorm prefect. (A job I did not like, but it forced me to come out of my comfort zone.) When I got sick with the dengue fever, she personally came to see me to offer words of comfort before I was sent home because I was so seriously ill. She always had a kind word of encouragement. Behind the stern exterior was always a mentor looking to bring out the best in her girls.
Sister Bernadette lived a very noble and worthwhile life that was pleasing to God. It is enough that she was a living example to Alpharians. Her girls took it much further and have become wonderful, productive citizens and role models for their families. She shaped, molded and created wonderful human beings.
Love is eternal. Rest in peace and glory oh very deserving one.
Your legacy lives on long after your human life ends; now you are reaping the joy and magnificence you created in the presence of our Almighty God.
Always and Forever grateful
"A job well done Sister B.
You've had such an impact on my life that I find myself relaying to my daughter, the pearls of wisdom you imparted to us your beloved students. You showed your love for your students in words and action and you've contributed to the development of strong, intelligent successful women.
You'll forever be missed. Much love!"
"Sister Bernadette certainly "walked the walk". I am honoured to be numbered as one of her children and will always love her and hold her in my heart. Thank you God for this wonderful gift. She has gone home. May she rest in peace."
"Sister Bernadette, I thank you for the love, respect, discipline, and the teachings of the Catholic Church to all the young ladies of Alpha Academy. May your memory live in our hearts for eternity. I wish your fellow sisters and family God's richest Blessings.
Shanane & Karen (who also attended Alpha)"
"Sleep now dear beloved, you deserve your rest, your work is done. What a wonderful legacy for us to emulate. Thank you so much!"
"Thank you for your tireless dedication & service Sister Bernadette. We will love & miss you forever."
"I know I will always remember and talk about Sr. Bernadette. She embodied everything that she taught us that a lady should be. I still don't know if I feared her or if I was just in awe, but I know I loved her and I feel honoured that I met her and that she was a part of my life. She made me want to be a better person. She made me want to be successful, she encouraged greatness in her girls.Sr. Bernadette, I'm sure, will live forever in her girls and in their descendants. Although we miss her, we rejoice in the fact that she enjoyed a full and meaningful life. RIP Sr. B."
"It is truly a sad time we have lost our dear Sister B. Sister B was such a role model for her "children" and we thank her for the foundation she has instilled in us to make us better followers of Christ and honest citizens. We thank God for her presence via skype at our Nov. 2013 reunion and I will always remember her beautiful prayer that she prayed with us. Farewell Sister B - your work on earth is done and it is time for you to rest in peace in our Father's heavenly home."
"Sister B, you embodied all that a great teacher should be. I will never forget the lessons I learned from you. I am who I am in no small part because of the influence of the strong, beautiful and caring woman you were. Your thanksgiving Mass was beautiful and I hope you were proud when you looked down on us, the successful women you created. I am so happy I went to Alpha and I will never forget you. RIP Sister B"
"Sis Bernadette, I am truly honored to have had you in my life during the formative years. I am constantly complimented about my upbringing among other fine qualities and I owe that to you. Thank you for always reminding us to be young ladies...may you rest in peace in the loving arms of your Savior!"
"Sister Bernadette was the epitome of grace, compassion and strength. She encouraged young women to hold themselves to higher standards and reinforced there was nothing they could not accomplish in this world. She will be missed. Rest In Peace."
"You made us leaders. For this I am forever grateful.
Class of 1981"
"In her own humble way, she taught me what it meant to be an Alpharian, a woman and mother. A woman of grace and virtue. Phenomenal you are Sister Bernadette Little. Forever in my heart. You will never be forgotten."
"Sister B it is after coming out in the world that I realize I was blessed in having you as an educator. Your passing is mourned but I know that you had a full rich life. Thank you."
""I am a product of Sister Mary Bernadette, class of 1983. So blessed to have known her, A wonderful mentor who nurtured many young girls into well respected young ladies. She taught us to stand straight and tall. A sisterhood was created that will last forever. Rest In Peace.""
"Alpha Academy and Sr. Bernadette played a very important part of my growing up years. Discipline and completing what was started were among the teachings in my formative years and I owe it all to my Alma Mater and Sister. May Sr. Bernadette's family and friends find peace and healing at this time of separation. God bless."
"I am a product of Sister Mary Bernadette, class of 1985. So blessed to have know her, rest in peace."
"I LOVE YOU, Sister Mary Bernadette Little. Thank you."
"It was a sincere honor and privilege to have attended Alpha during the tenure of such a gifted and dedicated mentor. Although my time at the Academy was short, your influence has loomed large in my life and your presence is indelible in my heart, Rest in peace, Sister Bernadette."
"You made me proud to call myself woman but even prouder to be known as an Alpha girl, Alpha graduate and Alpha Alum. Rest in peace Sister Bernadette. Your grace and goodness inspired and motivated us to be great and what you imparted to us will live on in us, our families and everyone that we touch with that same grace."
""We spend so much of our lives worrying about yesterday and tomorrow,yet one is buried and the other's unborn". (Matthew 6:25-34)
Sister Mary Bernadette's time with us was spent nurturing what lies between 'yesterday & tomorrow' a job [collectively] WELL DONE!"
"I will always be grateful that Sister Bernadette is a part of my garden of memories. That peaceful garden of my soul where the music of the spheres always whisper the encouragement of all who form a positive part of my life.
This song sung by all who want the best for me reminds me to use the talents gifted to me at birth to be the unique being I am destined to be. Reminding me to draw the picture as I see it for the God of the things as they are, and to leave a joyous memory in the quilted path of time.
Thank you Sister and rest in peace.
Jean McDowell-Forbes and all the McDowell girls"
"Close your eyes and sleep my child,
Your candle no longer shines,
The pain you had has all gone now,
Feel the peace engulf your mind,
Place yourself inside your soul
And fly with him on the wind,
For he is here to take you home,
Just reach out and hold his hand."
"Splendor in the grass, glory in the flowers, we shall not grieve but find strength in what is left behind."
"Your guidance laid an infinite and lasting foundation for building my tower of strength. Great expectations often shine in a different light..
Proud to be a product of "Sister B"...always true to "The Good and the True"."
"Sister Bernadette, I can hear you now singing with the angels, that beautiful hymn we sang so many times at assembly - "In Lowly adoration falling before Thy silent altar throne, we come to Thee with tender longing, sweet Jesus to be Thine alone........................" Rest In Eternal Peace Sister, you have earned it."
"She was such a strong, beautiful and dynamic woman. I had the privilege of spending time with her on various occasions while I was a student at Alpha Academy. I was blessed to be in her company and will always remember out time together with fondness. She was a role model and her legacy continues on with all of us. Her light will always continue to shine brightly. She has left an indelible mark in this world and will never be forgotten."
"WHAT A LASTING LEGACY YOU HAVE LEFT IN MY LIFE SISTER BERNADETTE AND THE OTHER STUDENTS THAT YOU MOLDED TO BECOME WHO WE ARE TODAY ALL OVER THE GLOBE.! I KNOW THAT THE ANGELS HAVE WELCOME YOU WITH OPEN ARMS."
"Suscipe of Mother Catherine McAuley
My God, I am Thine for time and eternity
Teach me to cast myself entirely
Into the arms of Thy loving providence
With the most lively, unlimited confidence
In Thy compassionate, tender pity
Grant me, O most Merciful Redeemer
That whatever Thou dost ordain or permit
May be acceptable to me.
Take from my heart all painful anxiety
Suffer nothing to sadden me but sin
Nothing to delight me, but the hope
of coming to the possession of Thee,
My God and my all
In Thine everlasting Kingdom.
We cherish your life and proudly carry your legacy. You touched us all and we bear your mark. And you made a difference in this Alpha Girl's life. Today and always, I sing for you this Suscipe that you taught us. God rest your soul, Sister Bernadette."
"My earliest recollection of Sister of Mercy nuns included being fully dressed from head to ankle in white habits and black rosary beads. Sister Bernadette was no exception to that rule. I remember a tall, black, strict nun who was “no nonsense” in the way she conducted her life as a nun and educator.
I quote ...“During my years at Alpha if I saw you coming I would make a “B” Line changing my route so that I would not have to meet with you eye to eye. I was scared”.... also describes my own experience. A change in the Sisters of Mercy dress code gave way to new looks among the nuns. No longer cloistered, a gentle side emerged, as strict as she had always been yet different. I was no longer ‘scared’ of Sister Bernadette. In retrospect I am truly grateful and blessed she was a part of my tender years.
Her life was dedicated unto God and to the girls given to her care for educational and spiritual nurture. We now as grown women, grandmothers, mothers and wives have caught a spark of her life and have gone on to accomplish great things in our own lives.
Sister Bernadette your life has been an inspiration and a tremendous blessing from God. Thank you for being a godly example in my life.............
Velma Chin (Grant)
Class of 1970"
"Mother Catherine McCauley wrote:
"In order to study Jesus Christ, you must render yourself familiar with His meekness,patience, forbearance,charity in word and work ,contempt of all earthly distinction,sincerity,obedience,love of prayer,humility…." The Sister Bernadette that I knew, lived these words to the very end. Grant us the strength to follow suit. Walk good Sr B ."
"I had the privilege of meeting this remarkable woman of Mercy when I was a student at the Alpha Business College 30 years ago. She later became my Spiritual Director and Novice Mistress.
Although 41 years my senior, we enjoyed each others company. We would have fun times together by going to the beach, cinema, circus, flea market, dining at fancy Chinese restaurants and even the Spa.
While visiting with her during her sickness, despite her pain and suffering, she always had a smile on her face. She never complained.
Sr. B you are now out of your pain and suffering. May songs of the angels welcome you and guide you along your way, may the smiles of the martyrs greet their own as darkness turns into day. Every fear will be undone and death will be no more. May songs of the angels welcome you before the face of God. RIP."
"A Woman of Substance. You leaving us have left a void that will be with us for a very very long time."
"Ad Verum Et Bonum
She lived "Ad Verum et Bonum" and we are so blessed that she shared her life, values, knowledge, faith and love with each of us. I will be forever grateful that I studied and worked under her because in my heart, soul and mind she will remain alive as I strive to be a TRUE Alpha girl. God blessed us all, the island and beyond by sharing her with us. Thanks be to Him for her."
"Eternal Sister Bernadette
'I am ready,' she said
'I told God this body has served me well
And I am ready to leave it now.'
She smiled her wise smile
Gentled by the years
Softened by our tears.
As she taught us how to live
She showed us how to die
From far-seeing eyes
Sister B is our Soul-Mother
As sure as bones
We carry 'B-DNA'
Walking and talking the Bernadette way
Holding her dignity
In the set of our face
The straight of our back
Drinking from her deep cup
Of faith and discipline.
Sister Mary Bernadette Little
At your 60th Jubilee
In your beloved Alpha Chapel
You offered your mantra:
We take it, hold it and know
With your God, the Saints and Angels
You are eternal.
by Jean Lowrie-Chin"
"Oh so regal; oh so commanding ; oh so strict, but with a purpose. Sister Bernadette groomed her girls in the right and proper way- to give love, to respect and be true to one another and to oneself.
For this I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had to be a part of the Alpha family and to be molded by Sister B to become a lady. My memories of her will live on as I continue to treasure her impact on my own education and on so many others..
May her soul rest peacefully, into eternity."
"Tall, strong and beautiful....Sr. Mary Bernadette
You inspired me with your leadership, your grace and composure. Now the lightness of your joy will elevate you to places for more greatness, wonderment and adventure. Let the curious spirit that you are soar beyond bounds, pioneering even more into eternity through the mystic spiral of unending life, love and joy."
"This tribute was added by Carol Mattos Williams-20th February, 2014
"Dearly beloved Sister Bernadette, you affected my life in such a phenomenal way that at the end of fifth form I wanted to become a nun.
Your exceptional poise, regal stature and erudite words of wisdom were unsurpassed. I dreamt of walking up and the grounds of Alpha ensuring that all the young ladies were studiously engaged, just like you!
I lived for Assembly when you would instruct us on how to carry ourselves like ladies. The values you taught us of love of God and respect and love of our fellowmen are indelibly imprinted and have been passed on to our children and children's children. Indeed, your legacy will continue in our hearts and the hearts of future generations.
Thank you Sister Bernadette for making Jamaica, and indeed the wider a better place"."
"Sister Bernadette's most favorite Psalm 139. Your nights shall now shine as day in the glory of the Almighty. You served God and sought His Spirit and now have His Spirit all the time. You will be missed by your children whom you molded and left behind in the natural world. We are forever grateful to the Lord for placing us under your loving yet stern guidance. We rejoice with you for attaining the ultimate."
"There are no words that can describe the appreciation I have for Sister Bernadette, she saw in me what no one saw, I am who I am because of her. I am so lucky to have been touched by her and will forever have Sister Bernadette in my heart. I love you Sister Bernadette and I will see you when my time ends here."
"When death comes to someone we love time seems to stand still as grief and sorrow rudely move into our lives. For many grief brings with iT physical pain, gnawing feeling within that only can be described as emptiness. And yet into reality THE reality of sorrow and pain comes a gift from our Lords life that can give is strength today and hope Tomorrow as we remember THE gift that was Sister B's life. I Will be forever grateful and feel blessed for having her as a part of my life."
"God saw you getting tired and cure was not to be so he put his arm around you and whispered "come to me " A golden heart stopped beating , hard working hands now rest.God broke our hearts... he only take the best...Every day in some way memories of you come our way.Your memory I / we treasure.....Love and always dear"
"Sister Bernadette, you have made a positive impact on our lives, may your soul rest in peace."
"I am eternally grateful to Sister Bernadette, who through her sublime influence, touched my life and inspired me, as she did to so many girls at Alpha, to be the educator and woman that I am today. Rest in peace Sister, until we meet again!
Director-Alpha Alumnae of Florida"
"She loved us dearly, we loved her more. Rest in peace Sr. B."
"GREAT TEACHER, EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN
Sister Mary Bernadette Little demonstrated all the characteristics of a great teacher and an extraordinary woman, who devoted her life to service. Her positive influence on the lives of generations of students who “passed through her hands” at the Convent of Mercy Alpha Academy is incalculable.
A strict disciplinarian she modeled sterling old fashioned values and instilled them in the young women she nurtured. She was a loving, compassionate human being but would never flinch from showing the tough side of love when the occasion demanded it.
Always able to spot talent and potential for greatness, she encouraged her Alpha “girls” to pursue their dreams. In return, she was greatly loved and admired by her past students, who became her friends for life. Throughout the years, right up until the time of her passing, she was constantly being showered with loving attention and accolades from grateful Alpha graduates of all ages. They would come from all over the world to visit their beloved Sister Bernadette.
She has made an unforgettable contribution to Jamaican education and we will remember her always with love and appreciation. We offer condolences to her family, religious community and vast network of friends.
May her soul rest in peace.
Jean (Fairweather) Wilson (1959)
Claudette (Comrie) Chin (1959)
Marjorie (Spencer) Moss-Solomon (1950)
Claudette (Bennett) Parkin (1952)
Helen (Spencer) Russell-Brown (1952)
Shirley Salmon (1952)
"Tribute to Sister Mary Bernadette-Little from Carol O'Connor-Wilson
Sister Bernadette was indeed a phenomenal woman. She was a visionary who
was well ahead of her times. I can still recall when she used to teach me Geography and when I was at the boarding school. I often told my daughters about her dignity and how she instilled confidence in me.They probably thought it was hero worship. Call it what you will she will always be my Heroine."
"We Are All Her Children
By Yvonne Hall
We are all her children
She had none of her body
Yet many of her heart and soul
We are all her children
She taught us love, not just to love ourselves
To love and help others
To love our brothers and sisters
To love our friends and neighbors
And, above all, love for God
We are all her children
She molded us as the potter lovingly molds his clay
Yet correcting, teaching, chiding as she molds us
Remolding and remolding to overcome our flaws
As she shapes, bends and fold and refolds
To make us reach our most perfect forms
Then releases us to influence world
Her children, her masterpieces
Yes, she had no children of her body
Yet we are all her children
We loved and cherished her while she was with us
Now we grieve for her passing not wanting her to go
Yet amidst our loss and grief
We lovingly release her
Into the waiting arms of our, of her, Heavenly Father
Eagerly waiting for her with arms wide open
Beckoning her with His gracious smile
"Well done my good and faithful servant"
And with the most beautiful smile she has ever smiled
She runs into His loving arms and whispers in her sweet, soft voice
"I am home, I am home""
"READY AND WAITING...
"If I'm still here"
Sister B would say
To a promise to visit her another day.
"I did not know I would make it to 89"
She gave HIM all the Glory every time.
"This may be my last day at Mass"
But many "last days" had passed.
But when I heard her cries for pain
When I heard the moans and groans
When no more that voice commanded
When no more her hand recorded
The prayerful words we loved to hear
I began to cherish every moment
Every moment when she said a word
Every moment when I gave her a hug
For it became so real for me to think
That in her words, "If I am still here"
Was the expectation of going somewhere
Being called to go somewhere
And, she was ready and waiting on that call...
...to keep her appointment with God!"
"Tribute to Sister Mary Bernadette Little, RSM
Maxine J. Brown
Proud 1967 Graduate
During my years at Alpha if I saw you coming I would make a “B” Line changing my route so that I would not have to meet with you eye to eye. I was scared. I would not know what to say if you spoke to me. I think I would faint.
When I left Alpha I am overjoyed that I got the chance to be up close and personal with you, hug you and kiss you, sat with you at Mary Mount, cracked a few jokes. Could this be the same Sister Bernadette that I was so scared of?
Thank you for making me into a productive woman."
"Tribute to our Beloved Sister Mary Bernadette, RSM
Oh how inspirational were thee our Beloved Sister B;
You molded our souls, our minds and our being to the very end.
You took many vows, not the least of which was to leave a legacy with all who had the luxury to live your truth through our school years and way beyond.
Oh how wise were thee our Beloved Sister B;
Your wisdom demonstrated with well-intentions in many ways;
You educated us scholastically and in humility and launched us worldwide, so ever powerfully to become whomever and whatever.
Oh how beautiful are thee our Beloved Sister B;
Your beauty effervesced with spirituality; was especially physical and radiated in that beautiful smile emanating from within your soul.
Your time came not unexpectedly, but before you left you visited with some of us through modern means and technology, to bless those of us so fortunately;
Fortunate to receive you in our reunion celebration of reconnecting from so many years ago of past students and old friendships;
How gloriously you blessed us once again flawlessly and beautifully as only you have wont to be;
Oh we cherish every moment we have had with thee; Oh we cherish everlastingly experiencing the world of Alpha Academy under the guidance and leadership of you, Sister Mary Bernadette.
Now you are with the angels inspiring each other and reveling in God’s deserved love.
May you rest in everlasting peace Sister B.
I will always love you.
Eleanor Brown, Class of ‘64."
"Lorna L Chin -Nobile (Bunty)
A true icon has passed. Loved and respected her. 'Burns" inspired us all, she certainly made me want to be a better person (whether I ever achieve that is left to be seen).
Rest in peace
I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.
Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking
Donna Channer Rose"
Phyllis Kong in response to Alethia's tribute
I have to add my tribute to a fine woman of God. Sr. B. loved Psalm 139, an indication of her intimate relationship with our King. She knew Him and He knew her and that knowledge was too much for her and in her humility, she conceded that it is too high for her to attain BUT SHE ATTAINED IT. I remember her as a strong woman, walking tall with a hearty laughter that she even manifested on her bed when she spoke to each and every one of her children. I did my best to illicit that robust laughter. It gladdened my heart so. She served the sovereign master all her life and prepared for entering into His rest. She took His hand and never let go. We are the beneficiary of her service. For her we are forever grateful."
The little stories that you share about the things you have done for Sister B and your interaction with her, after coming back from the reunion, explain the emotions that are tumbling down around you. No need to regret not having been in contact with her sooner. The fact is you eventually did in time and Sister B was, obviously, very much cognizant and appreciative of you in her latter days.
What I've gathered so far tells me what a deep thinker she was and how strong a woman she was, though not of body but of mind, in her later time. What a phenomenal woman, indeed! A new relationship was building and her impact on you was nothing like the earlier years at Alpha because she, too, had continued to grow on another level since then. It's likely she was being guided by the Holy Spirit.
Alethia Barker, I think you are the appointed conveyor of Sister B's messages. It wasn't possible for her to talk to each and all of us in the way she would have liked. Time was running out and her body was failing. As Yvonne Hall has said, we are all of her children though not of her body. And we do not want her to have suffered in vain. So I do look forward to hearing more from you about her inspiring thoughts. Nuff things still to learn so that we can use this lifetime to truly live according to God's plan!"
"In a world where so much darkness prevails, it is especially sad to lose such an icon of light and goodness as Sister Bernadette. It is indeed the end of an era. Sister Bernadette represents Alpha and all that was precious and enduring in our high school experience. A model of discipline, strength, purity and love, she taught us sound Christian values that helped shape us into the women we would become. Thank you Sister Bernadette for being such an integral part of our young lives. Your memory lives on forever. Your star shines eternal as we believe you are now with your Lord & Saviour in blissful rest.
Hercylin (Beverly) Lecky"
"The phenomenal Sister Mary Bernadette Little...
By Jean LOWRIE-CHIN
WHAT is the importance of a strong educator? How does an inspiring principal affect the lives of students? There is no question about the answer as graduates of Convent of Mercy 'Alpha' Academy mourn the recent death of our retired principal and nation-builder, Sister Mary Bernadette Little, the recipient of both national and papal honours.
For us, this eloquent educator was our reference point for excellence and leadership. Dr Elizabeth Wilson (nee Hitchins), who attended and also taught at the school remembers: "Sister Bernadette was the first Jamaican principal I had, and that was tremendously important for me. She was young and dynamic. And, as a role model for us at an all-girls school... we felt there was nothing we could not do as girls and as women."
Born Carmen Dorothy Mercedes Little (known in early life as Dorothy), at Cassava River, St Catherine, in 1924, Sister Bernadette was the second of eight children of Gervaise Washington Little and his wife Melita, nee Thame. Gervaise Little was head teacher and his wife was an assistant teacher at St Mary's School in Above Rocks, where Dorothy and her two eldest siblings received their primary education. Dorothy won a scholarship to the then private high school for girls, Alpha Academy, in 1936.
Our brilliant science teacher, the late Isla Vickers, was interviewed by another excellent Alpha graduate, Berl Francis, about her classmate Sister Bernadette. Berl quotes Mrs Vickers as saying of young Dorothy Little: "She was physically the smallest girl in the class, bright-eyed and eager, surveying everyone and everything. It was not long before we all grew to recognise that within her small frame there existed an avid desire for knowledge, a quick comprehension and a memory for facts, people, places, and events that surpassed that of her contemporaries."
Mrs Vickers noted that it was Sister Bernadette, as a long-serving visionary principal, who saw to the upgrading and expansion of the school's facilities: "Truly innovative, she never adhered to obsolete systems, but always put her talent to use in pursuing modern solutions."
Our former principal welcomed the digital age, and we were chuffed to receive her affirming e-mail messages. Computer or not, Sister B turned to pen and ink to express her appreciation for gifts, and we marvelled that her penmanship remained copybook elegant.
After her retirement, Sister Bernadette decided to write a riveting history of Alpha and, just over a year ago, stood before hundreds of admirers to address us at the launch of the book: The Story of Alpha — You Did It Unto Me, which has had several best-seller days on Amazon.
The Alpha student, Alpha head girl, former principal and head of the Mercy Sisters in Jamaica told us that she began a journey from rural Jamaica over 70 years before "that ended with my life being inextricably bound with that of the Sisters of Mercy".
Alpha Academy Principal Mackran Singh lauded the "expansive wordscape of Sister Bernadette's history, covering almost 300 years, two world wars, the Morant Bay Rebellion, Independence, and the democratisation of education".
Loyal even in her own frailty, Sister Bernadette gave a stirring remembrance at the funeral of her classmate Isla Vickers last August, and was kind enough to e-mail it to me. The tribute displayed the breadth of Sister's intellect, matched by her deep empathy.
"I met Isla Pietrie in January 1936 at Alpha Academy," Sister Bernadette told us, "...that cradle that has nurtured thousands of relationships spanning generations traversing the landscape of time. She was of the city born...I was fresh from the country, and there began a friendship which marched with time for most of the twentieth century...together we experienced the colonial days with its inherent injustices...together we witnessed the response of a resilient people in the birth of trade unions and political parties... together we saw Independence and the birth of a new dawn.
"Isla, my precious friend," she said, "may you be borne aloft on the wings of angels...on a path of golden moonlight, to that abode from whence you came to enrich our lives... that abode which is your true home".
Sister Bernadette had a challenging but never lonely battle with cancer over recent years. Her sisters in the Mercy community and her "girls" — a veritable rainbow tribe — did all that they could to show appreciation for a woman who had set us firmly on a path to excellence. Pam Lowe Chang would cook tempting dishes every Sunday. Alethia Barker was told by one of the Mercy Sisters that her regular gifts to the Convent at Widcombe amounted to an entire grocery store. Florida-based Patsy Lee, who was her constant 'angel', is organising live-streaming of Sister B's funeral, in collaboration with Natalie Thompson, the celebrated film-maker and Musgrave medallist.
Sister Marie Chin, the internationally respected regional superior of the Mercy Sisters and also a former Alpha girl, is organising two events: A service of remembrance at the Alpha Chapel of Christ the King on Friday, February 21, and a mass of Christian burial on Saturday, February 22 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Of course, Sister Bernadette had asked that, instead of flowers, donations be made to a scholarship fund established in her honour some years ago.
At the remembrance service, yet another of Sister Bernadette's 'daughters', Dr L'Antoinette Stines Osunide, will be choreographing a tribute to be performed by members of her L'Acadco Dance Theatre. Here is L'Antoinette's memory of the principal who guided her: "She saw my talent and allowed me to choreograph to the Missa Luba, which is the mass sung by African boys. It was being done because a dignitary in the Catholic Church was visiting, and she allowed a little girl to choreograph this big dance, with girls entering the auditorium from every door.
"This was the moment I knew how humble I had to be," continued L'Antoinette, "as everything we do, every achievement, is the blessing of God. I became a choreographer guided by Sister Bernadette. I am humbled and honoured that God placed me in Alpha Academy. Who else, where else would I have been given that opportunity? She gave me strength, hope and faith to do what I was put here to do."
In L'Antoinette's words we hear how a dedicated and sensitive educator can throw open opportunities to a humble, talented child just waiting to be discovered. Of note, just a few months ago, L'Acadco performed at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, where they received a standing ovation.
What a legacy Alpha graduates and Jamaica's educators have received from Sister Mary Bernadette Little. With our love and appreciation, we wish her eternal joy "in that abode which is her true home".
"My love for you is a journey, Starting at forever, And ending at never."