A Nun’s Vocation

In a match up between the Catholic hierarchy and the nuns, I’m betting on the nuns. With women like the late Sr. Rosalie Bertell living vocations, making a difference in the world– the bishops and cardinals are outmatched.
A candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, Sr.Bertell was greatly respected and will be missed.

Sister Rosalie Bertell was a frail child from birth and knew early on that she would become a nun. Her parents encouraged her studies and she shone in mathematics and music. Her mother, a Canadian, inspired her activism, while her American father, President of Standard Mirror Co. and inventor of the night mirror in cars, encouraged her scientific abilities. “My father never finished high school, but taught himself optics. He delighted in my success in math and everything I did.” When asked how they influenced her career path, she replied, “My mother never celebrated the end of WW2. She kept saying over and over: ‘they shouldn’t have done it.’ I don’t know how she understood about the bomb, since no one knew at that time. It was her Irish sixth sense! My father opposed war and would not invest in uranium, as so many did after the war.”

Bertell went on to a research job at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the world’s first cancer research facility. It was here that she first became interested in radiation and nuclear matters. Of this time, she says, “I was a senior cancer research scientist studying the harm done to a large population by unnecessary uses of diagnostic medical X-ray. I became outraged when I found that nuclear power plants were releasing radioactive materials (like X-rays) at this same level routinely, indiscriminately exposing the unsuspecting public. My first experience was a nuclear plant, which wanted to locate its facility next to the Gerber’s Baby Food Farm in Barker, NY. That plant was never built.” (The first time the nuclear industry was denied a location in the U.S.)

Sr. Bertell is survived by a body of research, several books, and the gratitude of the people she helped in her life well lived.

3 thoughts on “A Nun’s Vocation

    1. I been beat up by enough nuns to know not to mess with them. I survived Catholic school. All jokes aside, I don’t like seeing these women treated so badly by a church they gave their lives to.

      1. Agreed! I can count on one hand the number of nuns and priests throughout my Catholic school education. But it takes both hands, both feet, and the assistance f others to count those in the Brotherhood of St. John the Baptist de LaSalle. Yes, LaSalle ’82!

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