Sister Barbara Becnel, for a time known as Sister Marie Sarto, died at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center on May 3, 2019, after a 20-year courageous and grace-filled struggle with the degenerative neurological disease, spinocerebellar ataxia. The daughter of the late Albin J. Becnel and Ione Anderson Becnel, she was born on October 23, 1937, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was preceded in death by one sister, Betty Becnel Rourke, and is survived by two sisters: Albione Becnel and Denny Becnel McGovern (Cary) and several nieces and nephews. Sister Barbara received her elementary education at St. Catherine of Siena Grade School in Metairie, Louisiana, and graduated from Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. She entered the Ursuline Sisters in the summer of 1955, making her vows in January of 1958. Earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the College of New Rochelle in New York, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree from St. Louis University in English and a Master’s in Psychiatric Social Work from Tulane University in New Orleans. Sister Barbara taught in Dallas, Texas; Springfield, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana. While in New Orleans, she served as Sister Counsellor for religious of the Archdiocese and taught at St. John Preparatory High School. She then became a counselor for religious in the St. Louis area, served as Prioress of the Ursuline Community in Alton, Illinois, and returned to serve as a consultant for religious communities in St. Louis in the 1980’s. During these years, she was elected as a delegate to three General Chapters of the Ursulines that were held in Rome, Italy. For a number of years she had a private counseling practice in Ogdensburg, New York, and she finished her years of ministry with some time as a rural missionary in Labrador, Canada. She retired first to St. Joseph Village in Coppell, Texas, and then in 2011 to the Queen of Peace Healthcare Center in Alton, Illinois. She moved to Our Lady of Wisdom in New Orleans in 2014.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated for Sr. Barbara at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, 2701 State Street, on Saturday, May 11th, at 3 PM, with visitation beginning at 2 PM. Interment will be in the Ursuline Sisters’ Mausoleum on the campus of Ursuline Academy. A reception will follow in the Sisters’ State St. House next to the Shrine.
Memorials may be made to the Ursuline Sisters Retirement Fund, 353 S. Sappington Rd., St. Louis, MO 63122, to Ursuline Academy of New Orleans or the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, 2635 State St., New Orleans, LA 70118. JACOB SCHOEN & SON in charge of the arrangements.