In loving memory of

Bernadine Cupen, M.M.S.
April 17, 1919 - March 8, 2019

Sister Bernadine Cupen, M.M.S., the seventh of nine children born to Agatha (Samuel) and Walter Cupen, died in Philadelphia on March 8, 2019. She was born in Trinidad but was of Indian descent. She died one month short of turning 100 years old.

Known by many for her gracious healing presence, Sister Bernie came to Medical Mission Sisters after graduating from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA with a B.S. in chemistry. She made her First Profession of Vows in 1952 and Final Vows in 1957. Her first mission was in Bombay, India as a medical technician. She served for 15 years in the labs and the administration of Holy Family Hospitals in Bombay, Kodarma, Mandar and Patna, India.

Sister Bernie then felt moved to pursue a different ministry. Reflecting on that time in her life she shared, "I felt a desire to work at a grass root level with the poor." After a year of community development work, Sister Bernie and another MMS were asked to open a part-time clinic for the poor of the parish. Sister Bernie then started a pastoral ministry there, organizing a nutrition education program for the mothers as well as an immunization program. While in Bombay, she and two other MMS started the charismatic renewal in their home, together with a minister from England, Alan Vincent.

After studying Spanish briefly in the U.S., Sister Bernie spent a year in Guarenas, Venezuela, where she served in pastoral and healing ministry. She returned to Philadelphia and for ten years was a pastoral associate and coordinator of eucharistic ministers at St. Hugh's parish. During these years, through building relationships with elderly people and those with illnesses, Sister Bernie said she "learned to be a good listener and counsel with understanding and compassion."

In 1995 Sister Bernie became an American citizen; she volunteered at New Jerusalem Now, a program founded by MMS in North Philadelphia for people recovering from addiction. In recent years, Sister Bernie was a solid presence in her Fox Chase community, offering prayers and healing for those in need. Initially disappointed that when she turned 91 she was no longer allowed to drive to see her pastoral clients, she stated, "... after prayerful reflections I was inspired to solicit the aid of friends who readily came to my help with transportation. I feel certain the Holy Spirit is guiding me also in my role of mentor for my driver friend. We talk together, pray together, share ideas about our visits, and I have witnessed much spiritual growth in both of us."

Upon learning of her death, Sister Therese Tindirugamu from Pakistan shares, "We thank Bernie for her tremendous contribution to MMS life in mission across the Society, including Pakistan. My experience of Bernie is as a gentle soul who lived her life well; a woman of faith with a generous heart. During my time in the US, I was touched by her gentle healing presence during our interactions, even as she sat quietly next to me in our Fox Chase Chapel."

Relatives and friends are invited to Sister's Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 AM on Thursday, March 14, 2019 at the Medical Mission Sisters Chapel, 8400 Pine Road, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Remembrances in Sister's memory to the Medical Mission Sisters at the above address or online at are appreciated.

Photos and tributes may be shared at


Liesel Maria Pillai wrote on Mar 12, 2019:

"My great aunt was a woman of strength, her commitment to God was a testimony to all that knew her and her life was a living example of devotion may she find eternal rest in heaven."

Donna Fannell wrote on Mar 11, 2019:

"My aunt was a unique woman who led a beautiful and fulfilling life. She introduced me to yoga and the book, the power of the mind. May her soul rest in peace."

Donna Fannell wrote on Mar 11, 2019:

"My aunt was a unique woman who led a beautiful and fulfilling life. She introduced me to yoga and the book, the power of the mind. May her soul rest in peace."