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Sr. Cornelia Bock, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Cornelia Bock, OP (96) died on June 20, 2016 in the Dominican Sisters’ convent infirmary in Great Bend, KS. Sr. Cornelia was born on March 25, 1920, in Anaheim, CA; her parents were Paul and Barbara (Diefenbach) Bock.

Shortly after, the family moved to Willowdale, KS, where Sr. Cornelia attended St. Peter’s Elementary School and met the Dominican Sisters. She entered the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend (now the Dominican Sisters of Peace) in 1935 and pronounced her first vows on August 17, 1938. Sr. Cornelia celebrated 75 years of religious profession in 2013.

Sr. Cornelia Bock, OP

Sr. Cornelia taught in elementary schools in Great Bend and Garden Plain, KS, for three years before entering St. Rose Hospital School of Nursing (Great Bend, KS) in 1942. Between 1945 and 1959 she worked as a nurse at St. Rose Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital (Garden City, KS) and Sacred Heart Hospital (Lamar, CO). During eight of those years she was the supervising nurse on the obstetrical floor.

In 1956 the Dominican Sisters opened a mission in northern Nigeria, and Sr. Cornelia volunteered to go as a missionary. At the time, the lack of maternal and infant care in the area resulted in many deaths; the Sisters intended to open maternity/child dispensaries as part of their mission.  In preparation, Sr. Cornelia earned a certificate in midwifery from the Catholic Maternity Institute, Santa Fe, NM.  She ministered as a nurse in the Sisters’ clinics in both Gusau and Yelwa and also taught at the State Midwifery School in Sokoto, Nigeria.

During her years in Nigeria Sr. Cornlia assisted pregnant women, taught them good health measures, encouraged good eating and living habits, and came to know the country in all its richness and its poverty.  In the early years of the foundation of the Nigerian Dominican Sisters, Sr. Cornelia served as their superior for a few years. She also spent one year in Niger, working among famine refugees.

After Sr. Cornelia returned from Africa, she served in pastoral ministry at St. Mary’s Parish, Salina, KS from 1982-89. Continuing her care for the sick and suffering, she ministered with Connect Care, a volunteer AIDS ministry in Wichita, KS from 1989 to 1997.  In 1997, Sister Cornelia was ready to retire to the Great Bend motherhouse. During her early retirement days she assisted in the convent library and did computer work for the local community. She worked to keep the Nigerian story alive by completing two large volumes of stories and letters related to the African mission.

All Sr. Cornelia’s siblings preceded her in death, but she remained close to her nieces and nephews, who were faithful in calling and visiting her.

Sr. Irene Hartman recalled that “the Bock family will not be forgotten even after Sister Cornelia has gone from our midst. When her brother Paul Richard lost his life in an airplane accident, the family gave the community a carved communion railing decorated with deer at running waters, a symbol of Eucharist. When the chapel was redecorated in the 80’s, this art piece was placed in the dining room where it still reminds us of the Bock family and the bread of Eucharist.”

The wake and funeral Mass for Sr. Cornelia were held on June 23, 2016, at the Dominican Chapel of the Plains, (Great Bend, KS). Burial was in the Sisters’ Resurrection Cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Cornelia’s name may be submitted securely online or mailed to Office of Mission Advancement, Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2320 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH 43219-2098.

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