Father Bernardine Ward, a native of Rochester, died at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., on Feb. 25, 2006, at the age of 93. He was a Franciscan friar for 68 years and a priest for 63.
He was baptized Joseph Ward at Rochester’s Immaculate Conception Church in 1913 and graduated from St. Monica School and Aquinas Institute, both in Rochester. Following his seminary studies, he studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., and professed his solemn vows in 1940. He was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1942.
Father Ward then served in Latin America, initially spending 11 years in Mexico. He was a founder of a Franciscan mission in Puerto Rico and was its superior for nine years. He then served in a variety of apostolates in Bolivia until 2003 when ill health forced his return to the United States.
In 1970, after obtaining government and ecclesial permissions, buying equipment and land, he launched a radio station, “San Francisco,” broadcasting from Apolo, Bolivia. In 1978, he started another station, “Santa Clara,” this time in Sorata, Bolivia.
Traveling on foot, by mule, jeep, boat and plane, Father Ward went to countless villages where he baptized, confessed, visited and buried literally thousands of people. At age 78, he went to “lend a hand” at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana and remained there for more than 15 years.
Father Ward’s funeral liturgy was celebrated at the friary on Feb. 28, 2006, with burial in God’s Acre Cemetery, Ringwood. He is survived by his sister, Mrs. Nancy Scanlan of Rochester; his sister-in-law, Mrs. Ruth Ward; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.