DAVENPORT — Funeral services and a Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Bernadette T. Counihan, OSF, 91, and a resident of Davenport, will be 1 p.m., Friday, June 14, at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Davenport. Burial will be in Holy Family Cemetery, Davenport. Visitation is noon to 1 p.m. Friday at the church. Sister Bernadette died Saturday, June 8, 2013, at The Alverno Health Care Facility in Clinton. Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home, Davenport, has been entrusted with Sister Bernadette's arrangements
Sister Bernadette Counihan, OSF, was born Sept. 10, 1921, in Cicero, Ill., a daughter of Timothy C. Counihan and Anna Marie “Mamie” (Jepson) Counihan. She entered Religious Life with the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wis., and professed final vows June 13, 1940. In 1981 after many years of “loyal opposition” to what she saw as the abandonment of the School Sisters’ authentic calling, she began a new Order: The Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher in Davenport.
Sister Bernadette Counihan obtained her B.A. from Alverno College in Milwaukee and her M.A. from Marquette University, where she was the first nun graduate assistant. Sister did post-graduate work at the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern, and UWM. She taught in small and large high schools, co-educational and all-girls schools in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. She spent two and a half years teaching in Costa Rica, and prior to founding the new order of Franciscan Sisters in Davenport, spent 12 years teaching English at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Teaching and reading were two of Sister’s major interests. In her own words, Sister was “essentially an English teacher,” but for those who knew her she was much more; a loving and courageous woman of profound faith and great vision for the church which she so loved and served unselfishly with Franciscan joy all her life.
Survivors include her nieces, Linda Prisco of Lancaster, Ohio, and Kathy Johnson of Miami; nephews, Todd Counihan of Dublin, Texas,Thomas Counihan and Terry Counihan of Florida, and Thomas Pientka of Antioch, Ill.; and many cousins in the USA and Ireland, including Frank Spellman of Illinois and Father Cuff, a Maryknoll priest presently in China; as well as her spiritual daughters and the current Mother Superior, Sister Susan Rueve, OSF.
She was preceded in death by her parents; siblings, Timothy, Leora and Thomas; a niece, Bernadette Rubel; and nephews, Timothy and Theodore.
Memorials can be made to Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher, in care of The Convent, 2605 Boies Ave., Davenport, IA 52802.
Online remembrances and condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting Sr. Bernadette’s obituary at www.hmdfuneralhome.com.