Barbara Ann Bongartz, CDP

We commend to your charity the soul of our beloved
Sister Barbara Ann Bongartz
who departed this life on Holy Thursday, April 1, 2010
in the fifty-sixth year of her religious life
Age: 73 years, 11 months, 29 days
Funeral: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.

"Guide me, O shepherd of my heart, Lead me homeward through the dark into everlasting day."

These words, written by Francis Patrick O’Brien in his song “Shepherd of my Heart,” speak of Sister Barbara Ann’s whole life of faith, love and generous service. Born into a large family, one of the youngest of eleven children, Agnes Barbara Ann wrote that her parents were “the BEST in the world” and that her home and front porch were gathering places for friends and family.

In 1998, Sister Barbara Ann wrote, “Being the seventh straight girl meant I was to be the ‘Lucky One’… I know in many special ways and every day of my life, God has blessed me in ways more than being lucky.” She wrote that the seed of her vocation was planted at home, and grew and developed through the Sisters at Divine Providence Academy who were an inspiration to her. Her aunt, Sister Leonore, and her sister, Elizabeth Ann, already members of the Sisters of Divine Providence, supported her as she responded to her call to consecrate her life to God.

Joining a large class of young women, Sister Barbara Ann simply wanted to “serve God.” In her years of preparation for vows, she was earnest and conscientious as she grew in self-knowledge, in her love of community, in her faith relationship with God, and in her desire to serve others. Prepared in education, Sister Barbara Ann taught for twenty years in the Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and Detroit dioceses, and then for another thirty years, she served as principal at schools in Ford City, Greentree, and Brentwood, Pa. Fifty years of love for the children and their families, the faculties and other staff members in each school; years in which her own commitment, as well as events and relationships, intensified Sister Barbara Ann’s experience of God’s love. 

As she lived her life in community, Sister Barbara Ann’s relationships with her Sisters grew stronger. For many years, she enjoyed participating in the special Chrism mass on Holy Thursday at the cathedral. As Sister Barbara Anne’s ministry ended, she wrote, “I hope I have fulfilled my goal … to always make you feel most welcome … through sharing God’s work and love.” 

In her final years, Sister Barbara Ann was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. She gradually moved from the light of faith understandings, emotional attachments, and ministry responsibilities to the darkness of doubt, confusion, and the loss of clear memories. During these years, Sister Barbara Ann has been cared for with sensitivity and compassion, as she herself had served others. As Sister Barbara Ann enters into “everlasting day,” may she know how lovingly her God has held her hand and heart. "Show me the way of truth and light; keep me always in your sight; May my life never part from the shepherd of my heart."

Feast Day: December 4

Written by Sister Mary Francis Fletcher

If you would like to make a gift to the Sisters of Divine Providence in memory of Sister Barbara Ann, visit our donation page.