Walsingham Community Remembers Sister Berenice, 103
Walsingham Community Remembers Sister Berenice, 103
Walsingham Academy

The life of Sister Berenice Eltz is being celebrated by all who knew her after she died at the age of 103 on Friday, Aug. 16 in Merion, Pa.

Sister Berenice dedicated her life to helping those in need and was the inspiration behind Williamsburg House of Mercy, according to the Catholic Virginian.

Walsingham Academy President Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle, who knew Sister Berenice for more than 20 years, fondly remembered her sense of humor, her love of dance and, most of all, her devotion to helping the less fortunate.

"Sister Berenice embodied all of what [Sisters of Mercy founder] Catherine McAuley called us to do as Sisters of Mercy," Sister Mary Jeanne said.

Members of Walsingham's community took to Facebook to remember Sister Berenice.

"Sr. Berenice was a lovely lady who shared a beautiful faith with the Walsingham family," Anne Kinney wrote. "Thank you, Sr. Bernice, you brightened many a day for my family."

Walsingham's former Lower School principal noted Sister Berenice's common nickname in her remembrance post.

"My favorite memory of Sr. Berenice was the advice she gave to hesitant donors: 'It is better to give and be deceived than never to give at all,'" Parsons wrote. "Because of her efforts on behalf of the poor, she was sometimes known as the Mother Teresa of Williamsburg."

Several people in the days since Sister Berenice's passing have recounted that she taught "The Velveteen Rabbit" – typically a children's book – at the high school level. Michael Maddocks, a Walsingham graduate, parent and Board of Trustees member, says that's because with Sister Berenice, you learned much more than what was in the curriculum.

"She was a great teacher and mentor," Maddocks said. "She always instilled in us how lucky we were and to not take anything for granted."

A funeral service was recently held at the Motherhouse in Merion, Pa. where Sister Rose Morris paid tribute.

"This dear, demure little woman used all her energy as water fills a jar, spills over and passed on to us to continue the works of Mercy in our own lives," Sister Rose said.

Those whose lives were touched by Sister Berenice have remembered her in various ways, including donations to Walsingham Academy and through planting a tree in her memory.