Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Naomi Cross, "Sister Bertha"

Sister Bertha, who was born Naomi Cross,is seen at the left of the group below, at a wedding in the Hough area of Cleveland.

Naomi Cross was born in 1897 in Sandusky, Ohio, to Harry and Sophia Cross. Naomi's great grandfather Charles Cross was the first Catholic Mayor of Sandusky, and her grandfather James Cross was a Union Veteran of the Civil War.During her youth, Naomi was a member of Sandusky's Holy Angels parish, and she attended Holy Angels Parochial School. Naomi Cross became a nun with the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. She was known as "Sister Bertha." Rev. Robert C. Wolff wrote in his book about Sister Henrietta, who was a driving force in doing mission work in Cleveland's Hough area, that Sister Bertha was a key person in Sister Henrietta's ministry. Rev. Wolff stated about the Hough Mission Center, "Henrietta organized the larger programs; Bertha carried out the details of assembling, cooking, portioning and distributing food." Rev. Wolff wrote that from 1967 to 1981, Sister Henrietta and Sister Bertha were inseparable.

Sister Henrietta wrote of Sister Bertha in a 1970 issue of Catholic Universe Bulletin that "Sister Bertha is one who doesn't spare herself, she gives her all to look after the poor, just as Saint Vincent de Paul did." Sister Bertha died in 1981, from cancer. She is buried at Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery. In a 1981 Catholic Universe Bulletin, Sister Henrietta wrote about Sister Bertha, "When Sister Bertha, worn out in the service of God, closed her eyes quietly last week, she left behind a legacy of kindness and goodness and the most unselfish love...Everyone knew her and loved her..." While most of her life Sister Bertha ministered in the Cleveland and Summit County areas, she learned her core Christian values in Sandusky, Ohio.

Sister Bertha's tombstone at Calvary Cemetery can be seen at this link. Over one thousand cemetery records from Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery can be accessed at the Calvary Cemetery Search Engine, an ongoing project.

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