Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans

HNP Communications Franciscan World

The Provincial Office staff has learned of the passing of a friar in  the Southwest and a former provincial of the province in Australia — as well as two Franciscan sisters of communities connected to HNP.

Peter Verheggen, OFM, 97, a member of St. Barbara Province, died on May 3 in Tucson, Arizona. A professed Franciscan for 77 years and ordained for more than seven decades, Peter entered the Franciscan novitiate in his native Belgium in 1943. However, with his formation delayed by World War II, he did not earn his degree in theology until 1951, two years after his ordination. After coming to the United States in 1963 to raise funds for Franciscan Missions, he transferred to St. Barbara Province in 1967. Among other places, Peter ministered at Serra Retreat in Malibu, California, the Tohono O’odham Nation in Sells, Arizona, and the Village of Tularosa in New Mexico. In May 2018, while living at Atria del Rio Retirement Center in Tucson, he celebrated his 75th anniversary as a member of the Franciscan Order.

Cormac Nagle, OFM, 88, a member of the Province of the Holy Spirit in Australia, died on May 4 in Victoria. He held administrative positions that included provincial minister of Holy Spirit and General Counselor of the Order of Friars Minor. A professed friar for 70 years, during which he was ordained for 64, Cormac taught at Yarra Theological Union in Victoria, which posted on its website that he provided the land and assistance for Dorish Maru College, now a residence for seminarians pursuing theological training in preparation for ordination. He was also known for installing YTU’s first phone system. Until his death, he was writing, supervising research students, and contributing to staff seminars.

Franciscan Sisters
Sr. Giovannina Gemin, FMSC, (known as Sr. Reginalda), a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, died on April 21 in Peekskill, New York. She was 93 years old. Born in 1928 in Ospedaletto d’Istrana, Italy, she joined the Franciscan Sisters in Gemona, Italy, in 1945 and came to the U.S. three years later – where she spent nearly 70 years cooking and managing the kitchen for the congregation at Mount St. Francis in Peekskill. She also cooked and managed the kitchen for more than 550 children at the St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill until 2006. She is remembered as a kind and compassionate woman, especially to the children of the home.

Sr. Margaret Marie Berarducci, SA, 93, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, died on March 17 in Garrison, New York. Born in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, she became acquainted with the sisters as a teenager when they opened a mission in her hometown in 1943. In her biography, she had recalled what attracted her to religious vocation with the congregation: “There wasn’t that much for young people to do … a great deal of time was spent at the church helping the sisters … We were called upon … to show the sisters where people lived. We enjoyed doing whatever was needed. We also had the sisters for religious instruction. We had many happy times… like going for sleigh rides drawn by horses in the winter, hikes, picnics, and summer mountain climbing excursions.” As an Atonement missionary for 70 years, she served in parish, catechetical, pastoral, and guesthouse ministries in British Columbia (Burnaby, Cranbrook, Revelstoke, and Vancouver), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Assisi, Italy. She also served in ministry in New York State at parishes in Adams, Crown Point, Schenectady, Scotia, and New York City before returning in 2002 to live at Graymoor, the motherhouse in Garrison.

– Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Editor’s note: Each month, HNP Today publishes news of the deaths of Franciscan brothers, deacons, priests, and sisters – those who most have a connection to the friars of Holy Name Province. Information should be emailed to the HNP Communications Office.