Sister Bernard was born Catherine McCarroll in Kilsyth, near Glasgow, Scotland in 1931. She attended Holy Cross School, Croy for her primary education and later went to St. Ninian’s in Kirkintilloch. She was full of enthusiasm and had many talents, including being an accomplished organ and accordion player. She played the organ in Holy Cross Church, Croy, before joining MMM in 1953. Bernard completed nursing training in Drogheda in 1959, in one of the first groups to qualify there.
She also contributed greatly to the choir in the Motherhouse, with practice sessions and playing the organ at Mass and days of celebration. She was theatre sister in the hospital for four years before being assigned to Rome in 1964, where she was again theatre sister. She returned to Drogheda in 1966 for another seven years. In 1974, she was back in Italy, this time in Naples for two years. She became fluent in Italian and enjoyed speaking the language.
Sister Bernard completed her midwifery training in Drogheda in 1977 before being assigned to Nigeria. She was very excited and happy with this news and was to spend most of the next thirty-five years in Eleta, Ibadan. Sister Bernard was well known in Eleta, where she served in the maternity unit, as theatre sister, deputy matron, acting administrator, and in MMM leadership.
She was a very outgoing person: the centre of fun, laughter and jokes. She had a great sense of humour and it was great to have her around when there was a party. Her big treat was a meringue. Bernard loved animals and always had a dog in Nigeria, taking it for walks around the compound in the evening.
She loved coming home to Scotland to visit her family. It was a great shock when, on home leave in September 2013, she had a massive stroke while watching television in the Motherhouse with some other Sisters. She was enjoying her leave and had been to Scotland, where she had a lovely time with her family. She was making preparations to return to Nigeria, which she loved and where she served for so many years. Bernard was much loved by the local people, who called her Iya (mother). She had hoped to end her days in Eleta.
Sister Bernard spent three months in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Everything possible was done for her but there was little improvement. She was transferred to Áras Mhuire in November 2013. The staff said it was a joy to have Bernard with them, but it was very sad to see her so helpless and completely dependent on others. She understood everything that was said to her and she made a great effort to talk, managing a few words at times. She was very grateful for the help she received. Happily, Bernard never lost her smile, which always said a great deal.
She was very special to her family, who were very devoted to her during her illness and often visited. Sister Bernard died very peacefully in Áras Mhuire on 13 March 2015.
Archbishop Felix Alaba Job, in Ibadan, sent messages of sympathy and tribute. He said he would be offering Mass for her at the same time as her funeral Mass was celebrated in Drogheda.