Nicole Bernardi, who served on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board from 2015-18 and the Catholic Studies Advisory Board from 2004-18, passed away on Aug. 18. She is survived by her husband of 29 years, Luigi ’85, ’89 MBA; and daughters Francesca ’16 and Antonella ’18. Luigi served on the Opus College of Business Real Estate Advisory Board from 2009-13.
“Nicole and Luigi Bernardi have been exceedingly good to St. Thomas. They are exceedingly good people,” said President Emeritus Father Dennis Dease. “Nicole cared. She was kind, gracious, effervescent, and a woman of deep and committed faith. We shall miss her, but never forget her.”
The Bernardis are the namesakes of the Iversen Center for Faith’s Nicole and Luigi Bride’s and Groom’s Suites. They also funded the recent restoration of the Mary Peace Garden.
In this Newsroom Q&A from 2016, Nicole shared her thoughts on St. Thomas, the College of Arts and Sciences, travel and study abroad.
“Nicole’s support of the fall semester Rome Empower Program was instrumental to its successful launch in fall 2016,” Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell said. “She recognized the importance of study abroad as part of a liberal arts education, and her donation of scholarship funds for the Rome program was a key factor in enabling students to participate.”
Thanks to Luigi’s parents Antonio and Cecilia Bernardi, the Bernardi Campus in Rome opened its doors in 2000.
“There is a Latin phrase that catches the spirit of Nicole Bernardi, ‘via pulchritudinis’ — the way of beauty,” said Dr. Michael Naughton, director, Center for Catholic Studies. “She had an eye for the beautiful. Nicole brought a great conviction to the arts and she also brought this beauty to the deepest realities of life such as faith and human relationships. Nicole was one of the principal organizers of our Catholic Studies 20th anniversary celebration, and she would occasionally treat us to a wonderful home-cooked Italian meal at Sitzmann Hall. She is missed.”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Aug. 22 at 10 a.m., with visitation beginning at 9 a.m., at Saint Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis. The family will also greet guests following the Mass at church. Private interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights.