Sister Bernadette Clifford

Sister Bernadette Clifford, 84, of Alliance, Neb., passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo.

Sister Bernadette Clifford was born on August 6, 1937, in Pine Ridge, S.D. to Herbert H. and Jessie M. (McGaa) Clifford and was given the name Anita Clare Clifford. She was the first born and had 12 brothers and sisters. She was raised around Kyle, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her schooling began in 1944 at Holy Rosary Mission, Pine Ridge. She and her brothers and sisters were boarders at Holy Rosary. She graduated from there in May of 1956.

On September 16, 1956, she went to Marycrest in Denver, Colo., to join the Franciscan Sisters. During this time, too, she attended Regis College and eventually got her BA in Elementary Education in 1963. On August 15, 1957, she received the habit and the name Sister Bernadette. August 15, 1959, she made her temporary vows, and August 15, 1964, she pronounced her perpetual vows. From 1960 - 2003 she was an elementary teacher - mainly a primary teacher. She taught at St. Elizabeth’s in Denver, St. Agnes in Scottsbluff, Neb., St. Mary’s in O’Neill, Neb., St. Francis Mission in South Dakota, Our Lady of Lourdes in Porcupine, and St. Agnes in Alliance.

The highlight of her life was when she volunteered to go to Rome and teach fourth grade in international grade school at the Sister’s Generalate from 1977 to 1980. During these years she also got to work in the curia in the Vatican for the Secretariat of Christian Unity.

On August 6, 1978, (her birthday) Pope Paul VI died. Sister Bernadette got to witness the two conclaves that elected Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II. Because she worked in the curia she got to be part of a private audience - the first one on November 17, 1978, in the Papal Palace; the second one on April 3, 1979 (her dad’s birthday). Both were exciting experiences which will not be forgotten.

In 1986, she returned to St. Francis Mission and also Holy Rosary Mission in Porcupine. In 1997, she moved to Alliance teaching part-time at St. Agnes Academy and serving in various capacities at Marian Residence.

Sister Bernadette is survived by her siblings, Ralph Clifford, Evansville, Wis., Willard Clifford, Kyle, Carl Clifford, Kyle, Charlotte Young, Grand Prairie, Texas, Violet Justus, Martin, Francis Clifford, Valier, Mont., Herbert Clifford, Porcupine, Anna Clifford, and an adopted brother, Adam Clifford.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sisters, Ellen Stephen, Emma Clifford, Sharon Clifford and her brother, James.

Funeral services will be Friday, March 18, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at Marian Chapel in Alliance with Father Matt Koperski officiating. Burial will be in the Calvary Cemetery. A wake service will be Thursday, March 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Marian Chapel.

Online condolences may be left at with Bates-Gould Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

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