(These Words were written by Sister Bernadette Halbur.)
Sidonie and George Henry Halbur received me into their loving arms on January 1, 1930, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Life growing up on a farm in a large family meant that my life took in family fun, school, housework, and many outdoor jobs. It also meant seeing and knowing the beauty of sunsets, the smell of thunderstorms, the brilliance of fall colors, and the fields of ripening grain waving with the summer breezes.
I attended Hillcrest School, a small rural public school. There, I not only learned the basics, but I was also a loyal member of the baseball team. I loved winter; it was challenging and a joy, because sledding and ice skating were on the top of my list.
Following grade school, I entered the community as an aspirant. What a change! Adjustments were made, and challenges met. I received my high school diploma from St. Joseph’s Convent High School and my college degree from Alverno College. My master’s degree is from Marquette University. I am profoundly grateful for the educational and enriching opportunities that were afforded me at Alverno, Marquette, and other educational centers that I had the good fortune to attend.
I began my teaching ministry in 1950. I wasn’t sure that teaching was really meant for me, but I persevered and became a respected and valued teacher.
My first 19 years of teaching were at St. Anthony of Padua and Alverno College Laboratory School. They were good years.
An interest in a foreign experience was on my mind. There were different possibilities that interested me. Then I was offered a teaching position at a Jesuit school in Darjeeling, India; this was not to be. I was unable to obtain a working visa. Shortly after that, there was a need for a teacher at St. Clare College in Costa Rica. After some consideration, I was off to Costa Rica. What a wonderful learning experience.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country featuring volcanoes, earthquakes, jungles, clouds and rainforests, plateaus, rolling hills, and steep mountains. There are rustic towns and vibrant cities. It is famous for the high-grade coffee produced there. It teems with life, all kinds of life, but most of all, its people. How good it was to live and work with them My years there were devoted to education at St. Clare College. It was both challenging and productive. My life’s energy is present there. Thank you to all who worked with me and supported me throughout my years in Costa Rica.
I returned from Costa Rica in April 1983, and took a position in the Education Department of Alverno College. Within a short period of time, plans developed for three sisters who had worked in Latin America and spoke Spanish, to go to be of service in El Paso, Texas. These sisters were Sisters Nancy Hansen, Fran Hicks, and me. Late summer of 1985 found us on our way.
My experience as a volunteer at Annunciation House, a shelter for refugees, put me in contact with refugee women. I taught “survival English” and soon became aware of the situation and the needs of women. I tried to address some of those needs. Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, and I discussed the problem. He talked about the need of a transitional house for women. I discussed this with the sisters and friends. One friend questioned, “Why don’t you do it?” The challenge was met with, “Are you joking?” Serious discussion and research followed. La Posada was the response. Its doors opened in September 1986. Since then, and to this day, La Posada is addressing the basic needs and strengths of women and their children.
La Posada has been blessed, thanks to the sister staff, Tau and other volunteers, and responsible lay leadership. A thank-you to individual donors, donor groups, foundations, and grants whose financial support sustains its existence.
I wish to thank my family, my community, and everyone who worked with me and helped me throughout all the ups and downs of my wonderful life.
My life has been profoundly influenced and oriented by my parents’ faith, sense of justice, social responsibility, and their real care for others. I have always been a woman in love with the beauty and wonder of the earth, its gifts, its expressions of growth and change. I have come to understand the connectedness of the universe, and that I am part of that oneness.
I chose religious life as a way to live out my belief in God and as a way of being a caring and life-giving woman. My professional life has been dedicated to helping children and adults in the many-faceted world of education.
I have always been a person deeply moved by music, theater, and literature. The brilliant colors of fall, the lushness of the tropics, the stark beauty of the desert, the wonders of spring – they have all touched me. I have looked into the eyes of hundreds and hundreds of my fellow human beings, at the beauty, the wonder, and the depth of life that is there. I kneel in respect.