Sister Bernadette: Cowboy Nun from Texas by Mary Bernadette Muller and Elizabeth Harper Neeld

By association Texas and cowboys go together. But a cowboy nun? A nun living a contemplative life in the midst of a bustling horse ranch? In the midst of running a thriving business? But this is the least of the surprises. For there is little that is ordinary about the life of this 72-year-old abbess of a cloistered monastery in Brenham, Texas, who drives a pick-up truck, raises and trains world-class miniature horses, and plays a mean blues saxophone—all the while providing spiritual and physical support for the sisters under her care and carrying out her own full-time occupation of contemplative prayer.

From being the target of smugglers at the Mexican border…to holding off looters after a hurricane…to finding a way, against all odds, to help a group of Cuban nuns rebuild their community in America after they escaped from Havana when revolutionary soldiers forced their way into the monastery, killed the gardener, and took over the sisters’ quarters…Sister Bernadette: Cowboy Nun from Texas chronicles these and dozens of other spellbinding tales. A story of dramatic surprises, heartbreaking circumstances, hilarious incidents, and mystical moments.

Finding a way for Poor Clare nuns from Havana, Cuba, to re-establish their foundation in the United States following the invasion of their monastery in Cuba by Castro Revolutionaries was a huge challenge for Sister Bernadette, the American nun assigned to help the Cuban sisters. Her efforts resulted in the establishing of a miniature horse ranch in Texas where she bred and sold world-class miniature horses. This episode in the life of Bernadette brings laughter, tears, hope, and pure, unadulterated joy.

Quality Paperback. ISBN: 0-937897-98-1 Dimensions in inches: 0.65 x 9.0 x 6.0 61 b/w photographs. 242 pages.

About the Author

In the introduction to Sister Bernadette: Cowboy Nun From Texas, Sister Kathleen Francis Honc, O. S. F. writes of Mary Bernadette Muller: “At one of the recent American Miniature Horse Shows, Sister Mary Bernadette Muller received an unprecedented honor. Contemporaries in the miniature horse world gathered from all over the United States to name Sister Bernadette The First Lady of The American Miniature Horse Industry! Testimonial letters acclaimed the “Cowboy Nun from Texas”: her knowledge of miniature horses, her skill at operating a successful horse breeding and training ranch, her prowess as a business woman, her dedication and enthusiasm for the miniature horse industry. These same testimonial letters also acclaimed Sister Bernadette as a woman of God with values of prayer, sacrifice, humility, and poverty, as well as a woman whose joyful love of God shows itself in her every act and word….”

cowboynunMary Bernadette Muller was born in 1925 in Northfield, New Jersey. She became a nun at age sixteen, studied music professionally and then taught music for many years, played the organ for the first televised mass in America. After experiencing at age 30 a “dark night of the soul,” Sister Bernadette left the teaching order of Franciscans and became a cloistered nun in the Poor Clare order in New Orleans. There she was put in charge of a group of Cuban nuns who had escaped to America when their monastery in Havana was invaded by revolutionary soldiers. She and the Cuban sisters moved to Corpus Christi (a name the immigrant sisters could speak when they saw it on the map). There began a saga of hilarious, serious, unpredictable, and even miraculous incidents which continued for decades in Corpus and then in Brenham when the sisters moved there and built a new monastery.

cowboy nungSister Bernadette died of cancer in 1995 just days after planning and hosting a national show for miniature horses. The work of the Monastery of St. Clare continues under the able direction of Abbess Sister Angela in Brenham, Texas.

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