In a different time, we would be having a grand celebration this month. Forty years ago this week, our pastor Father Bernie was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has given most of his life to serving God’s people. When I first met him 25 years ago, he had just become a pastor for the first time at Saint Raymond in Mount Prospect. I came to understand what outstanding preaching and presiding over Liturgies and Sacraments could do to enliven a parish and the community. He made sure that people were drawn together with hospitality and parish events.
He has continued that service at Saint Anne since he became our pastor in 2009. During that time, he has enlivened the parish with his vision of church. Many years ago, he told me that after a priest is assigned to a parish as pastor, it takes time ‘becoming a pastor.’ He took the time to get to know the staff and the parish before making any major decisions. Since that time, he has continued to empower the laity. We have become a parish with a compassionate staff, and Leadership bodies that have a voice in the direction and vision the parishioners have for the future of our community. Soon we will enjoy hospitality after Masses, Music Under the Stars and other large gatherings so that the feeling of one people of God with a commitment to each other can show itself again! I know he is looking forward to that day as much as we all are.
In each parish, he was able to bring a team together to raise money for much needed improvements and repairs. Those teams worked tirelessly because they believed in the project and believed that Father Bernie would see it through. Although it was out of his comfort level, he persisted. We are reaping the benefits of that tenacity now in our parish.
His empathy for people in need is his greatest strength. He has walked through some very difficult times with families over those years, and has been a great joy to others. If he has been with you through the death of a loved one or celebrated the Sacraments of Marriage or Baptism with your family, you know exactly what I am saying. These are times in our Catholic Tradition that it is so important to have that compassion from our priests.
Please join the Parish Staff in taking the opportunity to congratulate Father Bernie on his 40 years of service to the people of God. God Bless you Father Bernie and thank you for all you have done to enrich our lives over the past 40 years!