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St. Bernadette Parish will be conducting a food collection drive for the St. Lucy Project on Feb 10 - 11. Please pick up your Blue Shopping Bag after Mass today. It contains a list of preferred items for purchase. Please fill the bag with the food items and return them at any Mass on Feb. 10 or 11. Monetary donations and Gift Cards to Dollar Tree, Aldi’s, Walmart, and Giant are always welcome.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
First I would like to mention a couple of housekeeping items. While I was away we sent out all the annual giving statements to parishioners for tax purposes, including those for whom we had no record of giving to the Sunday offering or second collections last year. We ran into trouble when many of these “zero giving” letters went to people who give through Faith Direct, electronically. The letter should have acknowledged your generosity in giving electronically, if that is the case, and explained that Faith Direct sends a statement separately. If you didn’t receive this also from them, please notify us immediately. I’m not sure why these Faith Direct contributions aren’t posted in the totals of the parish, and will look into doing this differently in the future to avoid confusion and give us a more accurate snapshot of parish giving in the offertory and other collections. I apologize for the heartburn this may have caused.
Also, we’ve been running promotions for the Virginia Catholic Conference Advocacy Day in Richmond, a chance for us to speak our Catholic witness to elected officials and discuss options for legislation that are consistent with our faith. Not much response, which is okay. But I would still like to provide a word of encouragement to attend Virginia Vespers on the evening of Thursday, February 15. Please see page 8 for details. This will be the first Vespers hosted by our new Bishop Burbidge and the new bishop of Richmond, Bishop Knestout. If you have never seen the Cathedral in Richmond, that in itself is a treat: until the split of Virginia into two dioceses with the new diocese of Arlington in 1973, it was our cathedral, too.
You will find my calendar for Sunday School for Adults here on this page. We will stick to the program as closely as possible. We will start each class at 10:05 to accommodate windy 9am homilies and end at 10:50 so you can get to Mass and prepare adequately for the liturgy.
Finally, I would like to announce our plans for this year’s Lenten Parish Retreat/Mission and Forty Hours Eucharistic Devotions, February 25-27. This year we begin on Sunday, 25 February, after the 5pm Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the first nightly conference by our speaker, Fr. Christian Beretta, OSFS, principal of Salesianum High School in Wilmington. A native of California, Father Beretta graduated from Paul VI High School in Fairfax, VA, where he first met the Oblates. After high school, he joined the formation program and earned a Bachelor’s degree in theology from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now DeSales University) in 1991. As a young Oblate, Father Beretta taught social justice and was an assistant coach in the basketball and baseball programs at Salesianum from 1991-1993.
Father Beretta returned to graduate school in the fall of 1993 and went on to earn three Masters degrees. He holds a Master of Divinity from the DeSales School of Theology in Washington, DC (1997), an M.A. in Kinesiology-Sport Psychology from the University of Maryland (1997) and an M.A. in Educational Administration from the University of Notre Dame (2009). After being ordained a priest on May 31, 1997 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Father Beretta returned to Salesianum as a teacher and coach from 1997-1999. In 1999, he was transferred to Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, FL, where he spent the next 11 years, first as the school’s campus minister from 1999-2003, and then as principal from 2003-2010.
As you can see, there is a broad and rich base of experience which Oblate Father Beretta will bring to our parish this Lent. Please watch for more details about his conferences and the schedule for 40 Hours.
God bless you.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
We send our greetings from Nazareth tonight, Tuesday the 16th. There are 44 of us from Saint Bernadette and Saint Mary on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land which started last Sunday evening, and we will return on the evening of Sunday the 28th.
Today was our first full day of visiting holy places. We landed early Monday morning in Vienna and, after a layover there, flew into Tel Aviv. By the time we cleared customs and rode the coach to Nazareth it was well past dark and dinnertime.
Nazareth remains one of the stronger Christian communities in Israel/Palestine, at about 30% of the population. It has seen a great boom in building and development in recent years, you might not recognize the place if you haven’t been here in a while. It is, of course, the town where Mary lived with her family. The Basilica of the Annunciation is built directly over the grotto, or cave, where Mary lived. Nazareth was considered a backwater town, was largely poor, and people lived in natural caves which line the surrounding hills. The people of Nazareth tended to be “parochial,” not too open to new ideas, and this is why they ultimately rejected Jesus and he relocated to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Tiberias), a much more cosmopolitan center of wealth, production and trade. The area under and around the basilica in Nazareth is actually a neighborhood of caves, and the nearby church of Saint Joseph is actually built over the cave where Saint Joseph lived. They were neighbors. Another similar city where the largely-poor population utilized a large formation of multiple caves as dwellings is Bethlehem.
This morning we started with Mass at the lower chapel in the Basilica of the Annunciation. I’ve been hoping for Mass here for 15 years! It is on the lowest level of the building, the floor level of Mary’s grotto home. The chapel altar is next to the room where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Son of God became Man. From there you can see the 4th century construction of the Byzantine church (by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine), as well as the later crusader construction (12th century). After Mass we toured the basilica, visited the church and grotto of Saint Joseph, then visited the synagogue where Jesus was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed that the call to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and a year of favor from the Lord, freedom and peace was fulfilled in himself as all listened.
Next we visited a suburb of Nazareth, a town called Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle. One of the things I love best about Cana is this undeniable stone jar that was found while they were excavating beneath the current 19th century church building. Beneath this church is found a crusader church in the basilican style, beneath that is found a synagogue that dates to Jesus’ time. And in the middle of that dig is this stone jar. It is about five feet tall, with thick stone sides that would hold about 30 gallons. In Cana, all our married couples renewed their marriage vows.
Next, we went to the Sea of Galilee. We visited three sites, all on the northeastern shore of the lake, where Jesus regularly visited. One shrine, called Tabgha, is another discovery of the early Byzantine/Crusader/19th century structures built over the stone where Jesus stood to multiply the loaves and fish. A little up the shore is another church, this one called Primacy of Peter, where Jesus appeared for the third time after his resurrection at the edge of the lake and cooked his disciples breakfast, then asked Peter three times “Do you love me?”, then giving the command, “Feed my sheep.” The third location a bit farther along is the city of Capernaum, the city of traders where Peter’s own house was. Jesus used Capernaum as one of his centers of activity in his work in Galilee, performing healings and miracles, preaching in their famous synagogue, and forming his disciples.
After lunch we got in a boat, probably a lot larger than the actual boats operated by Jesus’ disciples, and reflected on the many Gospel accounts of Jesus on the lake. Then we toured a museum where is displayed an actual 2,000 year-old wooden boat which was discovered in a drought 30 years ago and carefully preserved in the mud. Its carbon 14 dating confirms that it might be one of the boats on the lake even at the time of Jesus’ visitation.
This is just the first day! I will keep up with updates, and hopefully will prepare a travelogue in the near future for anyone interested at the parish. Please pray for us, we pray for you everywhere we go. Follow us @frdonrooney.
God bless you.