In Memoriam: Sister Miriam Roberta Kiernan, SC

She loved her students (“most days,” as she wryly noted), many of whom came from a background of poverty. Sister firmly believed that a good educational foundation was the best preparation for life that she could give them.

Sr-Miriam-Roberta-KiernanSister Miriam Roberta Kiernan was born on June 14, 1922 in Jamaica, NY, one of three daughters of Robert and Irene Dillon Kiernan. Miriam attended St. Thomas the Apostle School in Woodhaven, St. Agnes Academic H.S. in Rockville Centre and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where she was a member of the national honor society, Kappa Gamma Pi.

On September 8, 1944, when she joined the Sisters of Charity, she followed in the footsteps of her aunt after whom she had been named. Sr. Roberta earned her MA in English from Fordham University and later received certification in French and English.

Sister Roberta’s ministry in education began with the primary grades at St. Raymond’s, Bronx, and St. Ignatius Loyola, Manhattan. In 1952 she was sent to teach high school, spending ten years at Blessed Sacrament H.S., Manhattan. She captured the flavor of the school’s racial and ethnic diversity and the students’ positive experience of it in an article published in Interracial Review (April, 1963).

Sister Roberta is most remembered for her long years of service (1962-1996) at Cathedral H.S. where, with professionalism and a trademark sense of humor, she taught English and moderated the school newspaper, The Arbutus.

When she was first missioned to high school someone commented: “Adolescent girls for the rest of your life!” That was truly the calling that Sister Roberta embraced. She loved her students (“most days,” as she wryly noted), many of whom came from a background of poverty. Sister firmly believed that a good educational foundation was the best preparation for life that she could give them.

When Sister Roberta retired, students and colleagues spoke of her quick wit, helpfulness and dedication to excellence. Her passion for teaching continued as she taught English as a second language to domestic and grounds workers at Mount Saint Vincent.

Sister Roberta was known as an avid reader and an interesting conversationalist. Now as she enters the fullness of life in heaven, we can imagine her delight in discovering a universe of new conversation partners. We rejoice with her as she meets the God of Charity whose love she faithfully revealed to all in need, the mark of a true Sister of Charity.



July 27, 2015


Mount Saint Vincent Convent
6301 Riverdale Ave.
Bronx, NY 10471
Thursday, July 30, 2015, 2–6:30 pm
4:30 pm Prayer Service

Mass of the Resurrection
Mount Saint Vincent Convent
Friday, July 31, 2015, 10 am

Saint Joseph Cemetery
Yonkers, NY


  • St. Ignatius Loyola
    1950–1952, Teacher, Gr. 8
  • Blessed Sacrament H.S.
    1952–1962, Teacher
  • Cathedral H.S.
    1962–1996, Teacher

  • St. Raymond
    1946–1950, Teacher
    Gr. 1,2,8

    • St. Agatha Home
      Summers 7/47–7/48
      Group Mother/Teacher

9 Responses to In Memoriam: Sister Miriam Roberta Kiernan, SC

  1. Stephen Rothman July 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    I am Roberta’s nephew. Thank you to whoever wrote that obituary. It was beautiful and captured spirit her quite well. The only think I would have added is her toughness. From what I heard, teaching at some of those schools involved walking through some neighborhoods I might have been afraid to enter. But she did it daily and never had a problem. Perhaps she thought that her nun’s habit protected her, and perhaps it did.

    I’m 85% sure I got the “whoever” in the second sentence above right. But if it should have been “whomever,” I imagine Roberta will correct me at the wake.

    Steve Rothman

  2. Joan Rothman July 28, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

    I hope she has the good fortune to read the beautiful observations made here. Her sense of humor was a delight. As one of her sisters I was fortunate to have many opportunities of listening to her incisive, clever, and often laugh-provoking remarks.

  3. Webmaster July 28, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    Sister Roberta’s bio was a collaborated effort by Sisters Regina Bechtle and Maryellen Blumlein.

  4. Frank Rothman July 28, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    Thank you Sisters Regina and Martellen for this beautiful tribute. As one of her brothers in law I had the honor and pleasure of her friendship for sixty-five years. Her exceptional skill as a mentor to high school students was a joy to behold in her visits to the family.

  5. Jean Fallon July 29, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Sr, Roberta was my French/English teacher at Blessed Sacrament H.S, She was such an inspiration to me that I later majored in French at the College of Mt. St Vincent.
    Later, I was on the faculty of Cathedral H.S. where I taught French and had the honor to teach with her at the same school. I never neglected to tell her what an inspiration she was to me. She was a marvelous teacher and a warm person with all her students.
    Teachers influence students lives and Sr. Roberta certainly had a part in how my life played out. I married a French teacher I met at Fordham University and so I have her to thank for my happiness. She left a wonderful legacy and I hope that I have inspired some of my students. She set such a wonderful example.

  6. Margaret Irizarry, CHS 79 July 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Sister Roberta was my English teacher at Cathedral High School. (Class of 1979)

    Sister Roberta was one of the first teacher who captured my attention. She had a way of teaching that made the English language come alive for me. Sr. Roberta made a positive impact on my life which in turn, I grew in love with all aspects of the English language.

    I think at times she enjoyed the adventurous rebelliousness group of girls at CHS, and I thought then, and think now, that she discreetly encouraged it in our school. With her help, she brought adjectives into my life, and descriptive writing. I learned a new way of communicating….the written form. To this day, I am more comfortable in the use of my written English vs my spoken English.

    Thank you Sr. Roberta. You left your handprint in every student you taught at Cathedral High School. Rest in Peace dear angel.

  7. Lynn Rodriguez (formerly Harris) August 3, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    Thanks for being such a great teacher Sr. Roberta…I loved and appreciated English so much more, thx to you! A kind, but no – nonsense teacher, whom all us girls at CHS respected…SIP

  8. Marilyn Hank August 4, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Gosh sadly this is my second post this week I Vividly remember Sister Roberta I am CHS 70′ ……………….. despite 45 years later so fondly remember her Wonderful teacher and adviser……………….great sense of humor…………..RIP Sister and thanks for the memories…………..

  9. Indira Torres August 4, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    I have great memories of Sister Roberta.. English became a big thing for me. I loved reading because of her. She had her students read some of the classics like Ethan Frome. I appreciate when she corrected us on “ask” not “axed”. That really bothered her. She was tough, kind, funny and truthful. Thanks Sister Roberta for being an awesome educator.

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