Honoring Beauty

…in creation and in human experience


Sister Bernadette Luecker

While she was an elementary student at St. Matthias School on Chicago’s north side, Bernadette Luecker didn’t miss an opportunity to sing with the sisters for weekday Mass. There she developed a love of liturgy and the musical arts.

A sister for over half a century, Sister Bernadette is never far from her roots. According to classmate Sister Joyce Schreiner, her friend played the family piano for her five siblings and neighborhood pals and played several sports.

Religion was always very important to Sister Bernadette. At Alvernia High School, she admired the staff and decided to join the School Sisters of St. Francis after graduation. Her higher education at Alverno College in Milwaukee honed her skills as a musician and laid a solid foundation for her becoming an elementary school teacher.

She also spent 22 years in high school music education. For a year she taught music part-time at Quigley North Preparatory Seminary while directing the choir at St. Raymond Parish in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. The pastor suggested that Sister Bernadette work full-time as music director; she accepted his offer and moved into pastoral music. She continues in this role today serving as the Word and Music Coordinator at St. Thomas Becket Parish, also in Mt. Prospect. Duties include choosing music for the liturgies with sensitivity towards various cultural groups in the parish, rehearsing with the choir, preparing cantors, and playing organ and keyboard for liturgies. At all times, she keeps the empowerment of the laity uppermost in her mind.

“I think that I have grown in my pastoral service by embracing each new situation and trying to adapt to it,” she reflects. Sister Bernadette has shared her talents and dedication with four parishes and has substituted in another three. Sensitive to the needs of each one, she has stretched her capabilities and her heart to accommodate them beautifully.

Sister Bernadette is deeply committed to her calling and spares no work in making the liturgy as perfect as she can. A precious involvement of hers has been leading the Chicago Area Singers. Composed originally of sisters from the School Sisters of St. Francis’ Chicago Province, the chorus now includes lay women and has delighted listeners for over three decades.

Part of the ebb and flow of her life is daily prayer. She instinctively weaves the themes of the liturgical year into her conversation with God. Just as naturally she integrates her beloved nature into her spiritual life. Working in her garden is a true passion that bespeaks her deep Franciscan love of creation.

With characteristic professionalism, and personal desire, Sister Bernadette Luecker leans into the future and continues the “dance with God” that marks her being.

Adapted from an article by Sister Joelyn Hayes for the School Sisters of St. Francis Pastoral Ministry Network.