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Announcements ~ July 22, 2018

fleur cross logo Please join us for our monthly Taizé Prayer Service, Monday, July 23, 2018 at 8pm. Come pray for Christian unity in our community and in the world. All Christians are warmly invited; invite your friends!
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film. Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3. Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22. Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The Greater Springfield Communities of Faith are providing school supplies for children in our community. Supplies should be turned in before or after Masses Sunday, 29 July.  Please see list of items on page 9. A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 22, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
I’ve been to a couple of rehearsals of “Newsies,” the Saint Bernadette/Bishop Ireton High School Summer Theater Program in its 20th Season, and I want you to buy tickets and go for a night out enjoying the incredible talent of our young people.  The show is this Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and a matinee on Saturday afternoon.  It is the second best regional theater production of the year, I should think.  Normally I would say it is the best, but I saw “Hamilton” last week and have to say that that show is unreal, and amazing.  “Newsies” is real amazing.  I put a rehearsal photo on the cover this week, and an inset photo of the orchestra who were here rehearsing, too.  Sometimes the orchestra doesn’t get the applause it deserves!  Like most of us who quietly go about doing our work everyday, maybe there isn’t the applause but there is the satisfaction of knowing that the show needs our music to be a hit.  It is the same with the community of the Church.
 
But it was so satisfying, wasn’t it, seeing all the young people at Masses last weekend singing a preview of the musical?  Some were parishioners here, some from other parishes, some were from other churches.  It was good to see how music unites, and brings us together.
 
Last week ten of us from the parish attended the annual convention of the National Pastoral Musicians’ Association, whose members include musical ministers from Catholic parishes and dioceses—this year from 47 states and five other countries.  One of the breakout speakers spoke about the recent polls which have been done in the Church, seeking statistics about who is leaving the Church and why.  He inspired a few interesting reflections.
 
First, among the youth polled, some unexpressed feelings that were unexpected.  The youth/millennials in dialogue said that they would prefer that we talk with them, not about them.  Their indifference is, perhaps, not as simple as we might think and they would like to be engaged in conversation.  They asked:  Do we even know who they are?  Do we miss them?  Do they even know they are missed, since they are gone?
The speaker reminded everyone that, even though they may not have direct contact with the Church at this time in their lives, they still have relationship with us, and we are the Church.  We can’t forget that we are still avenues of grace.  He did say, however, that if our witness is not credible and authentic, it is likely that we will do more damage than good.
 
He said that the statistics prove that those who leave the Church cover the wide range of all ages, not just the youth.  We have gotten accustomed to stereotyping young adults as “Nones” (when asked to put their religious affiliation on questionnaires, they write “none”) but there are just as many adults of all ages who are described as “Dones,” having had enough of not getting what they want or even need from their life of faith and church community.  They are simply “done.” These often seem to come from generations who had a sense of religion as obligatory practice without ever having learned why we do what we do as the Church.  At any rate, in 2007 there were 36.6 million nones/dones; in 2014 there were 55.8.  The critical statistic, the speaker said, isn’t necessarily the age of the people, but the fact that the number seems to be growing (in all places and in all churches and religions) so much faster now than before.
 
If, in fact, the median age of those who have decided to leave the Church is 13 (both Pew and CARA have the same statistics), then many of the people who have already “checked out” are still in the pews because mom and dad say that is where they must be.  It seems that some real, honest, heart-to-heart conversations need to take place at home—that is, if everyone can find a time to be home together at the same time.  We need to think about how we include young people in the ministry and leadership of our parish groups, too, learning to be Church by doing Church, not just learning by watching us jump through the hoops.
 
Our busy lives are preparing a bright future for our children, but the cost of that future is family, deep peace, knowledge of God and I’m afraid, perhaps, salvation.  Our hard work will get us into great colleges where the job of apostacy will be finished by scholars whose voice apparently speaks more convincingly that Jesus himself.  Did we succeed?
 
The speaker had another point which got me thinking.  He said these people aren’t “unchurched” because once you are a part of a church it stays with you.  I have heard people often say this when they are in the process of coming back to the Church: “I found I just couldn’t stop being Catholic.”  They are, rather, “unGospeled” because the real message of truth has never been taken in and absorbed by their hearts and minds.  Once you know the love of God, you simply can’t deny it.  The real problem is that many of us never learn it, and that this is not a journey meant to be taken alone.  We are together and the love of God is what drives us forward.
 
God bless you,

 

Announcements ~ July 15, 2018

fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film. Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3. Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22. Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The Greater Springfield Communities of Faith are providing school supplies for children in our community. Each child will receive a backpack with necessary school supplies. Any extra supplies will be distributed to ECHO, Springfield/Franconia Resource Center, Crestwood Family Center, Crestwood, Garfield, or Lynbrook Elementary Schools or other organizations in need of supplies. Supplies should be turned in by Sunday, July 29.  Please see list of items on page 9. A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 15, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Every few years I write a bulletin article about the importance of funerals and the teachings of the Church with regard to funeral arrangements.  People find it useful, as it is a topic that sometimes comes up at a moment when those who must make arrangements don’t feel clear headed about how to proceed.
 
If someone you know is dying, it is important to contact a priest right away who can come to give the Anointing of the Sick—ideally, at a time when the person who is dying is still able to participate in the prayers (including the sacrament of Reconciliation) and can still receive Holy Communion.  Holy Communion is actually the sacrament of the dying, it is called Viaticum, or Food for the journey.
 
Hopefully by this point we have already begun making  plans.  Parents should talk to their children about what they want to happen.  Too often the children are no longer practicing Catholicism and really don’t know what is customary.  It is good to have these conversations, not only to teach them what you hope for, but also to free them from all the last minute anxiety.  Many times children will decide that a Funeral Mass isn’t necessary because they would feel too awkward attending. 
 
Funerals are very important.  We gather with the Communion of Saints for the person who is transitioning from this life to beyond;  we actively recall the salvation that is given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and apply that with our praise and thanksgiving for the intention of our beloved dead.  It is precisely this prayer to apply the grace and mercy of Jesus’ offering of himself for the intention of the deceased that has completely dropped out of funeral rites in other Christian churches.  They don’t pray directly for mercy and forgiveness for the deceased, they only pray for the comfort of one another, because they don’t want ever to give the impression that we could, in any way, buy our way into heaven.  Of course you can’t—but we do believe that our prayers and acts of reparation can help others who may be in purgatory now and unable to help themselves.  I hope that when I’m gone there is still someone who will offer a Mass intention for me every now and then, I probably will need it!
 
It is customary, normative, in the Church to celebrate the Funeral Mass with the body present.  If the choice is to cremate, it is preferred that cremation take place after the Funeral Mass.  Cremation has been allowed since the 60s but is still not preferred.  In the past, cremation was done by “pagans” to say that they had no hope in an afterlife; believers would never cremate.  Society has largely lost this distinction.  Today the general understanding is that cremation is allowed, but should not be chosen in any way that would be disrespectful of the deceased.  The remains (“cremains”) still must be interred in a place of honor, in the ground or in a niche at a columbarium, a place where people can still go to pray for them.  They may not be carried around, or scattered, or divided up among the kids, or made into jewelry or anything else.  Such things do not respect the dignity of the person whom we recall.
 
The Catholic tradition is a three-part Rite of Christian Burial.  Typically on the evening before the Funeral Mass we gather for a Vigil, sometimes called a “wake” or a “viewing” (if there is a body).  This is typically done at a funeral home, but if the church is available it could also be at the church, especially if a large crowd is anticipated.  The Vigil is a Liturgy of the Word: prayers, a reading, a psalm, Gospel and maybe a short homily.  Sometimes in the absence of a priest the custom of praying the rosary became popular.  Sometimes people do both.
 
The Funeral Mass is typically celebrated late morning or early afternoon (especially if arrangements for burial follow the Mass).  We have a packet in the office which you can pick up for planning purposes.  There are Scripture readings prescribed by the Church from which you can choose, as well as selections of sacred music.  Sometimes people want a “favorite song” of the deceased; generally speaking, we try to accommodate it as a prelude if it is reverent, but only sacred music is permitted during a Funeral.  Suggested selections, both in English and Spanish, cover all styles and periods of sacred music, traditonal as well as modern.
 
Finally, the third part of the Rite of Christian Burial is the graveside service, or Rite of Commendation.  It is very short, we arrive at the cemetery and accompany the casket to the grave, bless it, pray together for the deceased and depart.  It is very short.
 
We permit words of remembrance after the Prayer after Communion at the Funeral Mass, usually a 3-5 minute prepared talk by family or friend.  If people wish to have multiple speakers (as is more likely in a Protestant service), I always encourage them to consider speaking at the Vigil, or even the graveside.
 
If anyone would like to meet to work on planning in advance, we are happy to speak with you.  Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, please call.
 
God bless you,
 

Announcements ~ July 8, 2018

fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film. Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3. Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22. Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo Every little bit counts
When millions of supporters shop at smile.amazon.com, charitable donations quickly add up. St. Bernadette Church & School has received $427.46 as of May 2018.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 8, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

The last week of July I’m co-teaching CADEIO’s Institute for Ecumenical Leadership at Theological College in D.C. with Dr. John Borelli, assistant to the President at Georgetown University. John served as the director for interreligious affairs for probably over 25 years with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and was personally responsible for keeping alive the relationships between the Church not only with Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, but other Christian Communities as well. He is considered today one of the few treasures of Church knowledge in everything that happened at Vatican II and how we, as a Church, are reaching out to heal the divisions among Christians as well as the misunderstandings between Catholics and non-baptized people.

003 peter and andrewI was looking this evening at an icon of Saints Peter and Andrew. Actually, it is a plaque that was given to me when I completed my second term as president of CADEIO, the national Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. As I have been studying this image, I have reflected on the incredible richness of Vatican II of which most people are unaware, perfectly summed up by Pope Francis in our modern day when he says that we must consider ourselves as brothers and sisters first, and then partners in dialogue second. The unity is already a deep bond, though we may find ourselves in disagreement, as often members of families do.

You see, Peter and Andrew were biological brothers. Actually, it was Andrew who ran to his brother Peter and brought him to Jesus. At the dawn of the Apostolic age, Peter went west to Rome, Andrew east to what would eventually become Constantinople. Christianity inculturated two drastically different cultures, and from the beginning it would seem, had very distinct contrasts in polity and worship. in the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and himself was baptized, he relocated the center of Christianity to Constantinople, present day Istanbul, because the destruction of the Roman empire and the decline of moral society had so ravaged Rome that it was eventually left to ruin, not to be reborn until the Renaissance.

Well, the emperor went East but the Pope stayed West, and so the power struggle began. They boiled up in the form of theological disputes at the Council of Chalcedon (451), beginning 1500 years of separation that was ratified in 1054 by mutual excommunications, ultimately broken utterly the bloody sack of Constantinople by western Crusaders in 1204.

Difference was politically manipulated as opposition rather than diversity among brothers and sisters. Sound familiar? Divide and conquer is alive and well today.

During the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI continued the intention of Pope John XXIII to bring back into one the family of God in Jesus Christ. He met with Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem, then again in Rome at the close of the council in December 1965. They mutually declared that the differences of the churches was not theological at base, and that the mutual anathemas and excommunications that were thrown at each other 1000 years ago were no longer. That is the method of the devil, after all.

We have as our greatest instruction the prayer of Jesus himself to the Father: that we be one.

God bless you.

 

Announcements ~ July 1, 2018

fleur cross logo Peter’s Pence (Holy Father) Collection
Our second collection today is for Peter’s Pence, a worldwide collection that supports the charitable works of Pope Francis. Join with Pope Francis and be a witness of charity to our suffering brothers and sisters. Please be generous today. For more information, visit usccb.org/peters-pence.
 
fleur cross logo This weekend, we welcome Fr. Jean Nicholas to our Saint Bernadette family. Please join us for welcome receptions in the Saint Bernadette School Gymnasium after the 9am and 11am Masses.
 
fleur cross logo Happy Fourth of July!  May God bless our country and help us appreciate the value of freedom and those who have given so much to make it a reality. In observance of the holiday, our offices will be closed Wednesday, 4 July, 2018.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film.  Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium.  Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3.  Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22.  Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 1, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
The week of Jan. 13–17, 1777, Virginians Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, George Mason, Edmund Pendleton and Thomas Ludwell Lee gathered at Weedon’s Tavern, then located at Caroline and William streets in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.
 
During that meeting, Jefferson agreed to take on the responsibility of drafting the bill for religious freedom, which would become law nine years later and lay the groundwork for how the U. S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights deals with religion.  In fact, religion is listed as first among rights in the first amendment, followed by freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rights to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.
 
It was one of three achievements the nation’s third president instructed be included in his epitaph.
 
This past week we observed, as a Church in the United States, Religious Freedom Week.  It is an adaptation of what was formerly called the “Fortnight for Freedom,” when we would gather as a diocese in prayer and service to renew our commitment and call to elected officials to protect the right of freedom of conscience in practicing religion today.
 
When I was pastor in Fredericksburg, we would gather every January for an annual observance of this anniversary at the Religous Freedom Monument erected on Washington Avenue, two blocks from the historic houses of George Washington’s mother and sister.  Different people would lead prayers and speak of God and country in an interreligious program that included people of all faiths.  We were reminded that Americans don’t have the same passion to protect freedom of conscience today and how vital it is to the fabric of our society to renew these principles.
 
In too many ways our culture today reads this statute as a declaration of freedom from religion, rather than a freedom of religion.  This modern spin on the original intention of the Founding Fathers’ turns their purpose upside down:  those who practice religion become the odd exception and, as history has shown, the object of discrimination.  It was a complicated time, complicated by the kind of religious intolerance and hate that had boiled over between Christian congregations in continental Europe and England.  It probably should be acknowledged that these Fathers themselves were not particularly “religious,” either.  But they were defining something of our human condition:  the Virginia statute didn’t give people a right to religion, it simply recognized what is already  given to us by God.
 
I apologize to all that I lost track of my diocesan email account this week and missed the email encouraging pastors to promote a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Burbidge on the 22nd.  There are many resources, daily prayers and resources, that were intended for last week.  The good news is, we are still in the days leading up to Independence Day, when we remember the gift of our freedom and celebrate our nation as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  These are important words to constantly remember when we as a nation are tempted by Godlessness, division and discrimination.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
 
We welcome Fr. Jean Nicolas to our parish family this weekend.  Be sure to stop and meet him after Masses, especially at welcome receptions for him this weekend following the 9am and 11am Sunday Masses.  I am certain that Fr. Nicolas will bring new gifts and ideas that will continue to shape our community after the heart of Jesus for the benefit of all.
 
Fr. Nicolas’ coming will make a few adjustments to the regular calendar of the parish.  His day off will be Sunday night/Monday (mine is Tuesday night/Wednesday) so we will move parish meetings (parish council, finance committee, development) to Thursday nights for this coming year.  Also, school Masses will move from Mondays to Thursdays. 
 
RCIA will move to Monday nights, and will be directed by our Director of Faith Formation, Martha Drennan, with the assistance of myself and Deacon John every week.  We are going to restructure RCIA a bit emphasizing sharing and witness with an emphasis on small group dynamics and building community.  If anyone is interested in joining me on an RCIA team (especially if you have recently become a member of the Church through the RCIA, or completed the Called and Gifted program and are looking for a spot to put your good gifts to good use), we will hold RCIA team building meetings on three Thursday evenings in August.
 
Happy Fourth of July holiday! 
 
God bless you.
 
 

Announcements ~ June 24, 2018

fleur cross logo The second collection next weekend is for the Peter’s Pence Collection which supports the Pope’s charitable works. Thank you for your generosity.
 
fleur cross logo Please join as we bid farewell to Fr. Vu at receptions following the 9am and 11am Masses this Sunday, June 24th in the Saint Bernadette School Gymnasium. Stop by and wish him well, and thank him for all the goodness he has brought to our parish family.
 
fleur cross logo Next weekend, we will welcome Fr. Jean Nicolas to our Saint Bernadette family. Please join us for welcome receptions in the Saint Bernadette School Gymnasium after the 9am and 11am Masses.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our Saint Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film.  Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium.  Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3.  Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22.  Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.

Fr. Don Weekly Letter ~ June 24, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
“If you build it...”  What a difference a few days make! You can see below the progress of only a few days as the new preschool classroom begins to take shape on the wooded side of the Office and School buildings.  We are glad to announce that there are only two desks left open for this fall in both preschool classes.  Thanks, parents, for your confidence in us and for helping to build a strong school family.  Our registration for the whole school is strong as well, 407 students to date.  We still have plenty of room.  Come and see our school—you will be very pleasantly surprised and proud, as we are, of what is happening at Saint Bernadette.
 
Rapid changes are happening now on the front of the school, too.  This past week our faculty and staff kindly and efficiently vacated the administrative spaces getting ready for renovation and addition.  We literally have two months to get all this done... it is an aggressive schedule.  Kindly remember our projects in your prayers—ask Saint Joseph for his intercession to stay on target and keep all our workers safe.  It is an active construction zone, so I also ask all our parents to keep an eye open to make sure that we don’t have young explorers going into these areas.  Anyone with business in the school is asked first to come to the parish office (please see the bulletin page 5).
 
Already this past weekend we noticed a change in Masses—many people are already traveling and the mood is lighter, more relaxed.  Please remember the need to dress appropriately for Mass, and also the importance of making the effort to arrive in time for the start of Mass.  At some Masses last weekend only 1/4 of the congregation had arrived and assembled by the beginning of the Opening Song.  Please be mindful of the importance of where we are, who we are, and what we are doing.  It is a profound Mystery we are invited to participate in, Jesus’ offering of himself, our offering of ourselves in him, to the Father.  There is no greater dignity than our presence.
 
For those who are traveling, I want to remind you how you can stay in touch with our parish virtually—no real substitute, but something.  Bulletins and homilies are uploaded each week: www.stbernpar.org.
 
God bless you.
 

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