Sister Berlinda Gallegos

April 19, 1934 – October 9, 2021

Sister Berlinda Gallegos, OSB, 87, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas, died Saturday, October 9, 2021, at the monastery. The funeral took place on November 10 in St. Scholastica Chapel. Burial followed in the monastery cemetery.

Sister Berlinda was born in Antonito, Colorado, on April 19, 1934, the youngest in the family of Guzman and Carlota Gallegos. She entered the Mount community in 1954 and made her monastic profession in 1955. Earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Mount St. Scholastica College, she taught primary and middle grades for 40 years in Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. With her master’s degree in special education from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, she was a valued reading specialist for many of these years. After leaving classroom teaching in 1995, she cared for the elderly in their own homes. When she moved to Dooley Center, she continued her ministry to the residents there.

Sister Berlinda was preceded in death by her parents, by brothers Amarante and Baldemar (B.T.) Gallegos, and sisters Genara Gallegos, Stella Lopez, Guadalupe Espinoza and Hope Duran. She is survived by her brother Lee Gallegos of Salt Lake City, Utah, and by nieces, nephews and her monastic family. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s website.

View the vigil held for Sister Berlinda on November 8, 2021.

Watch the Mass of Resurrection for Sister Berlinda on November 10, 2021.

Reflection at the Vigil for Sister Berlinda Gallegos

Sister Judith Sutera | November 9, 2021

How often in scripture do we hear about silver, gold and jewels, but always in the context of something that is far better – the spiritual gifts we attain from faith, love and wisdom. If you were looking for people wealthy in gold and jewels, the San Luis Valley probably would not be a prime target. Even more, among the people there, sheep herding is one of the most humble of occupations. But the family of shepherd Guzman and Carlotta Gallegos was rich in faith and love and the precious jewels that were their children. Among them, Maria Berlinda would take the path of seeking God, seeking wisdom, in this monastic community.

As Paul reminds us, any other gain is loss when compared to knowing Christ Jesus. Proverbs says, “The pursuit of wisdom is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.” Indeed, Sister Berlinda was happy. Yes, you could tell by her wit and her delight in laughing and making others laugh. But you could tell she was truly happy inside in the way she was able to love and help others. She taught for forty years, mostly in the lower grades, and pursued further education so that she could take care, as a reading specialist, of the children who needed the most help to be successful in school. She knew that, as Jesus said, there are things that are hidden from the wealthy of this world, and that God is most readily revealed in the little ones. Just as Benedict says that God is most present in the young and the old, Sister Berlinda sought God’s wisdom at both ends of the life cycle. In her notes to me for her jubilee, she had written that, after retirement from teaching, “For the last ten years since retiring, I have been happily active in the apostolate of caring for the elderly.” She was never just active, she was happily active.

Even in her final years in Dooley, she was often happily active. She didn’t just wander, she almost always was heading for a destination, still wanting to help someone if she could just find her classroom or her siblings or her childhood home so she could help her mother. Asked on a pastoral assessment the meaning of her life now that she was in Dooley Center, she wrote, “in preparation for community with God.” She completed the sentence “My relationship with God is one of …” with the words “love and adoration.” Now that’s a wealth that can take us through the hard times of childhood poverty, challenging days in ministry, or the diminishment of age with wisdom and, thus, happiness. How many of those with piles of gold and jewels long for the unbuyable gifts of happiness and peace!

Her happiness she had always within her in her praying of the rosary and her Eucharistic devotion, her relationship with the Blessed Mother, her friendliness, her eagerness to serve and, of course, her wit. When I was in Dooley recuperating from surgery, she was ahead of me in the line for morning medications. She peered into the cup of pills and asked, “Will any of these make me pretty?” When I followed, I told the nurse, “If she got one, I’ll have what she’s having.” You can see that I didn’t get a pretty-pill. But when it comes to seeking wisdom and going through life with a joyful spirit to ultimate unity with God, we should all ask to have what she’s having.