General Secretary and Generalate Community Coordinator

Bernadette_Koning_ed1Sr. Bernadette Koning, FDNSC, Australia

I was born and grew up in Brisbane, Australia, and am the second eldest of eight children – four boys and four girls. My parents migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in January 1954, about a month after they were married. My father, who passed away 10 years ago, was a plumber and gas-fitter and worked very hard to provide for his large family and to ensure we had a good Catholic education. My mother, being a housewife, worked just as hard at home for us – she is now 89 and is looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday! My parents’ faith in God was simple and was demonstrated not so much in words but in practice – in how they cared for others, especially the less fortunate, the lonely, those who were a little different.

Following secondary school, I did clerical work for some years in a government department. During that time, I started to reflect on life and what I wanted to do with my life. Also through reading and reflecting on Scripture, I was becoming aware for the first time of a God who loves me personally and I was growing in my relationship with Jesus. I think at this stage I was not thinking about entering religious life, but I wanted to do something more with my life. So I made up my mind to be a lay missionary for three years and, in 1978, was able to get a position as secretary in one of our FDNSC schools in PNG – Marianville Girls’ High School just outside Port Moresby. I very much enjoyed my time there and, since I lived in one of the staff houses on the property, I got to know the Sisters who lived in the convent and worked at the school. It was through them and their example that I became attracted to religious life. After I returned to Australia at the end of 1980, I continued to discern for a further year and then decided to enter our Congregation in 1982, making my first profession in 1985.

Mostly during my 29 years as a professed religious, my apostolate has been in the secretarial field – at the Australian Provincial House, in two OLSH Colleges (in Melbourne and Sydney) and now at the Generalate. I am grateful for the friendships I have made and the communities in which I have lived. The loving and continuing presence of Jesus and Mary in my life encourages me to persevere each day.

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