Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Virginia Berak, OP, died at the age of 92 on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at the Lourdes Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Waterford, MI. She was born Margaret Berak on August 8, 1922, in Czechoslovakia and was the youngest of four children. Her parents were Joseph and Susan Novak Berak. At the age of five, she and her mother and three siblings, Joseph, Steve and Ann emigrated to Detroit, MI, where her father found employment. Margaret lived with her family until she entered the Dominican Sisters, Congregation of St. Zedislava, in Warren, MI (now Dominican Sisters of Peace) in 1937.
At her reception Margaret was given the name of Sr. Mary Virginia. She made her first profession of vows on August 8, 1940. She made Perpetual Profession in 1943.
Sr. Virginia studied at Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI, earning her BA degree in 1953 and an MA degree in education in 1965.
Sister served as an educator and principal of several schools for more than 50 years. As an educator she served at schools in Windber, PA; and Ironwood, Flint, Madison Heights and Detroit, MI. Sr. Virginia was well loved by all of her students and staff personnel. This was evidenced by the number of former students and friends who attended her Memorial Services.
After years in education Sr. Virginia was asked to become the Director of an Independent Senior Community on the Lourdes Campus which she readily accepted. Fox Manor became her home for the next five years. Her artistic talents came alive as she decorated both the inside of the facility as well as the outdoor gardens. She loved nature and did whatever she was able to enhance God’s beauty in the natural settings of Lourdes.
Sister retired to the Motherhouse in Oxford in 2000, where she began a ministry of child care. Her love of children was visible in the many photos depicting her cuddling or holding the little ones. She also assumed household responsibilities and a ministry of prayer until she was admitted to Lourdes Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in August of 2013.
Sr. Virginia celebrated her 75th Jubilee in 2013 and exclaimed that it was one of the happiest days of her life. She was grateful to God for allowing her to spend so much time in a service of love to the people of God.
While a resident of Lourdes, Sr. Virginia endeared herself to all the staff. They loved her for her smile, her generosity and her determination to be sure everything in the home was under control. She believed she was in charge!
Sister suffered a massive stroke on Monday, April 6, 2015, and entered eternal life on April 14.
Her wake and funeral Mass were held at the Oxford Motherhouse on April 16 and 17. Burial followed the Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery in Oxford.
Memorial gifts in Sr. Virginia’s name may be submitted securely online at www.oppeace.org or sent to Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219.