My mom's aunt, Bernadette Whelan, passed away earlier this week. I remember visiting her home in Acton as a child and being overwhelmed by her two giant St. Bernard dogs. I was back in Acton yesterday for her funeral, and this entry is about my great aunt Bernie and her absolute commitment and devotion to the Parish of St. Joseph in Acton, Ontario.
Bernadette was a Torontonian, living with her mother in the big smoke when she made her first trip to Acton to help Rev. Vincent J. Morgan at St. Joseph's in the early 1950s. She was only supposed to stay in Acton to housekeep for Fr. Morgan for two weeks, but she ended up spending 60 years. The housekeeper she was filling in for got engaged and Bernadette was offered the position at St. Joseph's.
Bernadette was paid $25 a month and essentially managed all aspects of the parish. She lived in Fr. Morgan's Acton home across the street from the church, and was left that house in his will when he passed away in 1977. Just yesterday, I visited Fr. Morgan's grave site in Guelph's Catholic cemetery.
St. Joseph's parish priests came and went, but Aunt Bernie was a constant. She devoted her life to the church, working tirelessly for little, caring for all.
She's earned her rest.