Little Falls, Minnesota............Sister Mary Joel (Bernice) Bieniek, 104, died on November 29, 2021, at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls, Minn.
Bernice Bieniek was born on August 10, 1917, near Holdingford, Minn., the eleventh of 14 children born to the late Joseph and Agnes (Novak) Bieniek. She was accepted as a Franciscan Sister on August 12, 1937, and received the name Sister Mary Joel. She made first profession of vows on August 12, 1939, and final vows on August 12, 1942. She was a Franciscan Sister for 84 years.
Sister Joel received a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition with minors in social science and chemistry. She ministered as a registered dietitian in several of the Franciscan health care facilities and was an instructor in the schools of nursing in Little Falls and Breckenridge, Minn. Later for many years, she served as a traveling dietary consultant and preceptor for health care facilities in Little Falls, Breckenridge, Sauk Centre, Brainerd, Long Prairie, Onamia, Princeton, Pierz, Browerville, Park Rapids, Walker, Pine River, Clarissa and Bertha.
Sister Joel was firmly rooted in her basic religious beliefs and ideals beginning from her home and continuing through her many years in religious life. With a mind for organizing, she carried her responsibilities to completion with grace and interest. She generously used her specials skills of cooking, baking, making jellies and jams and canning, as well as advising and sharing the many lessons she had learned from life. She will be remembered as a very creative person with a special eye for flower and display arrangements. In her last years, she especially used this gift, making lovely flower arrangements for the convent chapel, while serving as sacristan. Sister Joel was a hard worker and had a very giving spirit, quietly doing her work, then seemed surprised that anyone noticed the beauty she created.
Sister Joel was preceded in death by siblings: John, Walter, Mary Mathe, Peter, Sister Vianney, OSB, Sister Grace, OSF, Joseph, Sister Giovanni, OSB, Sylvester, Pauline Mans, Theophile, Alois and Stephen. Survivors include nieces, nephews and her Franciscan Community.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls, Minn., on December 6 at 11 a.m. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent from 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral. Masks are required. Mass will be livestreamed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiyFvZ53PAfd1apBC88kEuQ. Arrangements are by Emblom-Brenny Funeral Service, Little Falls.
Donations to Franciscan Sisters ministries preferred.