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Sister Kathleen (Bernardone) Spurlin, BVM

Sister Kathleen (Bernardone) Spurlin, BVM, 98, of Mount Carmel Bluffs, 1160 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, Iowa, died Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, in the Mary Frances Clarke Chapel at Mount Carmel Bluffs. Burial is in the Mount Carmel Cemetery. All services may be viewed through livestream at

She was born on May 3, 1925, in Nevis, Minn., to Fred and Lydia (Guderian) Spurlin. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1946, from St. Mary Parish, Michigan City, Ind. She professed first vows on March 19, 1949, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1954.

Sister Kathleen was an elementary teacher in San Francisco; Kauai, Hawaii; Butte and Missoula, Mont.; Phoenix; Clarksdale, Miss., and Houston, where she also served as a secondary teacher and a university campus minister. She ministered as a chaplain at correctional institutions in Clarksdale and Leakesville, Miss., and volunteered as a hospice chaplain in Hattiesburg, Miss.

“An inmate shared, ‘Sister Kathleen Spurlin is . . . warm, loving, caring, concerned, compassionate, understanding, sympathetic, kind, merciful, patient. [She] wants to help, [is] motivated by God’s love, perceives human suffering and needs, injustice, mistreatment, racial discrimination, and helps provide for the spiritual well-being of inmates. . . She serves . . . as the ears, eyes, and . . . voices of inmates . . . in a spirit of Christian gentleness and integrity. Inmates revere her as a special representative of God among them.’” (Eulogy).

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Betty Lou Echman, Marvis Jean (Don) Buss, Haroldeen Rudquist Fields, Mathilda Ann (Bill) Hudson, Estella Jenson, Arlene Jenson, and Darlene Jenson; brothers Ronald Spurlin and Fred Spurlin; and brother-in-law John Storey. She is survived by a sister, Lurlyn Storey, and a brother, Jerry (Jeanne) Jenson; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Memorials may be given to Sisters of Charity, BVM, 1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003 or online at

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This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. I’ve known Sister since I was 8 years old (I’m 81 now). She was my teacher at St. Brigid’s School for both the third and fifth grades. I believe we were her first class. She was transferred when I was in the eighth grade. We lost contact for several years until the Class of 1956 had a reunion and she came. I was unable to attend. Sister got my contact info and we have been in touch since then. Several years ago, there was a special BVM celebration at St. Paul’s in San Francisco. Sister was going to attend, so we decided to meet there, at long last. Before the meeting, we exchanged photos, as I had never seen her without her habit, and, she has never seen me with grey hair. It was a very memorable meeting. She was a very special person; a wonderful teacher, and, a loving friend …

    Judith Lucchesi O’Sullivan

  2. Grateful to have been one of Sr. Bernardone’s fifth grade students at St. Ann School in Butte Montana, I smile at all the memories that have passed through my mind remembering her. She was one of the influences on my own vocation to priesthood and devotion to St. Francis. She came to our school after her assignment in Hawaii’ and I still remember the dance with the two bamboo poles and the “Hooky Lau” song. Mostly, I remember her deep faith and the many ways she shared it with us. May she rest in peace.

  3. I was one of sister’s third grade students at St. Brigid’s Grammar School in San Francisco. To the best of my recollection, she was very patient with all her students. I have fond memories of my years under the BVM umbrella. I can remember the names of all my teachers from Kindergarten through Grade 8. My folks kept in touch with most of them when I went on to St. Ignatius High School and USF. My wife and I have lived in Santa Rosa for the past 54 years and when we moved there, we discovered that the BVMs also ran the grammar and high school in Petaluma CA. I believe that all my other teachers have predeceased her. Rest in Peace Sister Mary Bernardone.
    Mel Figoni St. Brigid School Class of 1955.

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