Brother Bernard Petley, MM

Born: September 5, 1887
Oath: October 9, 1930
Died: September 17, 1983

Early in the morning on September 17, 1983 our dear and revered Brother Bernard -better known to many as Anselm- very peacefully died at St. Teresa’s Residence. All of us who have had the pleasure of knowing Brother Bernard know how kind, careful and conscientious he was about all the different aspects of life. He not only lived a life of many years, with much variety, but most importantly he lived it very well.

Brother Bernard was born on September 5, 1887 in London, England. He was one of seven children born to James and Elizabeth Petley. His early education was completed in England and after some years of working in his homeland he immigrated to the U.S. in 1911. In 1918, while serving in the U.S. Army, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He entered Maryknoll in 1926.

In 1928 a cherished dream was fulfilled. Before he joined Maryknoll he had a great desire to serve the Chinese people and now his strongest hope and prayer was being answered with his assignment to Hong Kong. In the years that followed he gave much devoted and quiet service to Maryknoll’s mission work in South China and Manchuria. Sometimes he was working among the lepers in Kongmoon and at other times he was engaged in apostolates which needed a secretary or a bookkeeper at the Center house in Hong Kong.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Brother was briefly imprisoned by the Japanese and later repatriated on the Gripsholm in 1942. This was a very important period in his life as it gave him an opportunity to rebuild his health and to visit with his brothers and sisters in England and Canada. After a long deserved furlough Brother began a long career of service in our U.S. Development houses. For a number of years he worked at Bedford and at St. Louis. In 1951 he began his much appreciated work on the West Coast. It was from the Los Angeles House that he retired in 1965 and took up residence at Los Altos. There he remained until recently he arrived at St. Teresa’s for medical reasons. He was assigned to the Special Society Unit in January, 1976.

The Wake was held on Monday, September 19th in the Center Chapel with Father Victor Schymeinsky officiating and Biography read by Brother Justin Joyce. Mass of Christian Burial took place the next day with Father James Weckesser as principal celebrant and the Homily by Father John Halbert. Father John Cioppa officiated at the graveside in the Maryknoll Cemetery.

All members of the Society can give thanks to the Lord that Brother Bernard lived such a long and fruitful life among us in the service of God’s people. We have much to be grateful for as we remember our brother who died as he had lived – full of pure intentions and with a quiet purpose of life that had a very special spiritual dignity.