Oral History

Memories of Sister Mary Conradine Bieniek, OSF

Sister Conradine was willing to chat about almost anything.  As we sat in her comfortable bright room in the Villa of St. Joseph, our conversation soon drifted to our early days in Alvernia – the changes that had occurred – the flood of lay students versus only religious and so was the beginning as we witnessed it.  Soon tremendous changes took place.  Influx of students, addition of buildings, more sports, more activities – growth mushroomed in every way.  Faculty increased, staff grew, parking spaces were never enough, academic major areas were added, extra curricular activities grew, home coming in the Fall brought alumni, open house for new students always showed a promise.  All this and much more.  The list was long but it was exciting and interesting.

From her recollected memories, she shared with me, I was able to describe at least partially her contributions to her community as a religious Bernardine Franciscan Sister.

Briefly, Sister M. Conradine Bienek entered the congregation from Old Forge, a small town located on the outskirts of Scranton in 1933.  She began her postulancy or preparation for religious life on August 11, 1936, when she made her first Profession dedicating her life to Christ.

After receiving a BS in Education in 1951 and her Masters degree in 1965 from Villanova University, she continued her graduate studies under an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant from Colorado State and Knox College.  In 1969 she was a Doctoral candidate in Math Education at the Pennsylvania State University where she completed her course requirement.

During this time, Sister M. Conradine taught in the parochial system for sixteen years in the intermediate and junior high grades.  For eleven years she was chairperson of the Math Department in the diocesan high school.  In 1954, she was an instructor for Villanova University Extension in Education and later was in-service instructor for Modern Math for the dioceses of Allenton and Scranton.  She taught Math for many years at Central Catholic High School in Reading.  Students will not forget her dedication there.

While in Maryview serving as General Councilor from 1972-1982, Sister Conradine was an instructor in Math and Secondary Teaching Education and from 1975-1982 at Alvernia College.  She was also chairman of the Board of Trustees at Alvernia College and a member of the Board of Trustees of Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Virginia.

Sister Conradine zealously fulfilled the goals according to the Bernardine Franciscan Constitution to give Gospel witness and to minister by prayer and example of her life.  She contributed much to the congregation with openness and a desire to serve.

She served in the following:

  1. Chairman of the Steering Committee for General Chapter Preparations
  2. General Consultant of the Retirement Commission
  3. Member of the Archdiocese Committee of Secondary Education
  4. Provincial Councilor for Sacred Heart Province from 1967-1970
  5. Superior at Maryview – 1973-1979 and at St. Bernardine Convent from 1982-1985
  6. Delegate to Provincial Chapter – 1970 and 1987
  7. Delegate to General Chapters – 1972, 1976-1982.

Interviewed by: Sister M. Alodia  Podczasy, July 16, 1999

Contact Information

The University Archives are located at the 951 Morgantown Offices on the first floor. Please contact Sharon Neal, Library Director to schedule an appointment.


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