» She grew up in Omaha as Megan Spelic, but she met Pope Francis on Wednesday under her new name — Sister Bernadette Rose of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“It was quite the day,” said Sister Bernadette, a novice nun and daughter of Bill and Denise Spelic. “The pope gently shook our hands and took time to speak to each one of us individually before he gave a mini homily. We knelt to receive his blessing. It all happened in about 15 minutes.”
She spoke Friday from the novitiate in Queens, New York, but she and other sisters earlier had taken a train to Washington, D.C., happy to obtain tickets to the pope’s Mass for the canonization of Junipero Serra. Then they received word that the pope wanted to meet them, so they left the basilica and went to the Little Sisters’ home in Washington.
About 7 p.m., Sister Bernadette said, the pope arrived “in his little Fiat” and entered through the back door.
The Little Sisters run homes for senior citizens across the country and elsewhere, and they were pleased to hear the pope’s words on his U.S. trip in support of the work of nuns.
Sister Bernadette grew up in the Dundee neighborhood and attended Mercy High for two years before her family moved to the Denver area when her dad got a new job. She earned a volleyball scholarship to Benedictine College in Kansas, but played only one year and became more interested in service work, which led to her entering a convent.
In the sports world, a weak team is often referred to as the “Little Sisters of the Poor.” Mother Mary Richard, novice director, said she has heard that “many, many times” and doesn’t know how it started.
Well, the New York Times says its roots trace to an emphatic victory by Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio in his 1950 re-election, which the mayor of Cleveland compared to the “Notre Dame football team beating the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
By the way, there is no height limit to become a Little Sister — Sister Bernadette is 5-foot-6, and Mother Mary has known some who are 6 feet tall.
» So you notice Warren Buffett and Bill Gates at a corner table and you want to mark the occasion, but the local custom is not to bother Warren when he is out and about with guests.
Ryan Basye, an Omaha real estate agent, wasn’t going to interrupt. But he thought maybe an over-the-shoulder selfie wouldn’t be rude.
So that’s what he did a week ago Thursday at Piccolo’s — a quick click, over and done with.
On that night, a friend who was leaving a birthday party as Ryan’s group arrived told him that two or three people had tried to approach the corner table, but plainclothes security guys shooed them away.
Ryan, who was celebrating news that he and his wife are expecting their second child, has shared the photo with a few friends, but said he didn’t post it on Facebook. “I don’t do a lot of social media.”
Last year, Buffett met Paul McCartney for ice cream at eCreamery in Dundee, and he has welcomed celebrities to such places as Gorat’s, Avoli’s and Petrow’s. (Piccolo’s, a Buffett favorite, will close on Dec. 31.) Warren is approachable, but when he is hosting folks, it’s polite not to approach.
Ryan’s selfie is his second connection with Buffett. He has a baseball that Warren autographed for him when he was part owner of the Omaha Royals baseball team.
» Tom Osborne spoke last week at a fundraiser in Miami — wait, not that Miami. It was at Northeastern A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma.
Two nights before the Huskers lost to the Miami Hurricanes in Florida, the legendary former Nebraska football coach helped raise more than $20,000 for Northeastern’s athletic department, the Miami News-Record reported.
Osborne said that he doesn’t regret serving three terms in Congress, but that there was more cooperation between coaches in the Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences than among politicians in Washington, D.C.
“It was a little more cutthroat,” he said. “That was kind of disappointing to see. ... Somebody that appears to be your friend one day is not your friend the next day. You will have some people that will tell you they will do something and they won’t do it. That is always disappointing.”
» In 2012, I wrote with hope that high school star Corn Elder would become a Cornhusker — and become the most delightfully named NU player since the 1970s defensive back Wonderful Monds.
Corn was weighing nine offers, including one from Nebraska, and his classmates in Nashville, Tennessee, had begun wearing those crazy plastic cornhead hats that a few Husker fans wear.
Alas, Corn — whose full name is Cornelius — didn’t come to corn country. But I didn’t find out which school he had chosen and forgot about him.
Then on Saturday, after Nebraska’s wonderful fourth-quarter comeback sent the game into overtime, a Husker pass fell short and was intercepted by — oh, no! — Corn Elder.
All of us corn elders in Nebraska sighed in disappointment, and so did a lot of young Cornhusker fans.
» Addendum to our newspaper’s report on Gov. Pete Ricketts’ recent trade mission to Asia: China Daily reported that three other Midwestern U.S. governors visited Japan with him, but Ricketts was the only one who went to China.
China is Nebraska’s fastest-growing export destination.
The governor acknowledged that not many Chinese people know much about Nebraska but said he wants to change that.
“Nebraska is a place where we grow and make things,” he said. “We share many of the values with the Chinese people, and it is a state with a lot of opportunity to grow the cooperation between China and the U.S.”
About 7,000 Chinese people live in Nebraska, he said, including about 1,500 Chinese students.
» Former Gov. Dave Heineman and his wife, Sally Ganem, were roasted and toasted Friday night as the Omaha Press Club’s latest “faces on the barroom floor.”
The tradition dates to 1971, and usually is a single “face,” though a few couples have been honored jointly. A caricature by artist James Horan is placed in a special frame in the floor — so people can playfully walk on images of the honorees — until the drawing takes a place on a wall at the club on the 22nd floor of the original First National Bank Tower downtown.
Hal Daub, former mayor, U.S. congressman and current University of Nebraska regent, served as emcee. Roasters included U.S. Sen Deb Fischer and former Gov. Mike Johanns.
» Happy 109th birthday this Thursday to Thelma Sutcliffe, who still lives on her own on the 21st floor of Elmwood Tower, 52nd and Leavenworth Streets, with a beautiful view of Omaha.
She plays bridge and enjoys friends, and her nephew and his wife from Arizona will help celebrate her birthday. A widow for 49 years, she has no children, survived breast cancer at about 40, never smoked, quit driving at 97 and allowed that “for my age, I have pretty good health.”
She is the second-oldest person in Nebraska. Ruth Woods of Omaha turned 109 on July 18.
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