Story Courtesy of Rachel Davis, Garden City Telegram
Growing up poor in western Kansas was a way of life for Germana Brungardt. She worked the farm along with her 12 siblings and attended school. But when she was 16, her priorities changed toward education and more toward a closer relationship with God. Brungardt left her home and family and embraced a new world -- a convent.
She became a Dominican sister on Sept. 8, 1944, and was thrust into a situation where hard work, struggles, blessings and prayer were experienced every day.
Now, more than 60 years later, Brungardt has received recognition for a decision she made as a teen, as well as admiration for her unwavering ability to continue giving to the community.
Brungardt volunteers at the hospital three times a week where she visits with the patients and takes communion.
Scott Taylor, president and CEO of St. Catherine Hospital, told a crowd of 300 Tuesday at the hospital that Brungardt, also known as Sister Bertilla, was an inspiration to many, including him.
"It's an amazing commitment and dedication to her love of Christ," he said of her 60-plus years of service. "I hope when I have completed 60 years as a health administrator, I can look back and say I have done my career with the same love and dedication she has with hers."
At the event, Brungardt, 79, was presented with a proclamation from Mayor Reynaldo Mesa. The proclamation was made at an early city commission meeting in July, declaring July 23 as Sister Bertilla Brungardt Day. Part of the proclamation reads: "Sister Bertilla has depicted the selfless mission of St. Catherine Hospital since 1994 by nurturing the healing ministry of the church and by celebrating the fullness of life's joys and sadness, blessings and struggles."
As part of the celebration, guests received cake and ice cream and hugs from Brungardt.
"I am so fortunate to be able to work here with people who are so compassionate and kind," she said. "I ask the patients how they are doing, how they are treated, if they're getting their medicine -- things like that," she said. "Patients come here to be taken care of, and I make sure they are happy while they are here."
Chaplain Remi Ekweariri blessed Brungardt during the reflection. "She has graced us in so many ways. Thank you for the gift of Sister Bertilla," he said in prayer. "Bless her with good life, love and peace as she continues beside you in her everyday life."
Brungardt said she was overwhelmed with the support she received and said she will continue doing God's work. "I'm getting older," she said. "But as long as I am able, I will continue."