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Announcements ~ April 29, 2018

fleur cross logo The Catholic Home Missions Appeal second collection is this week. Right now, over 40 percent of dioceses in the US are considered home missions because they are unable to fund essential pastoral work needed in their communities. Your support of this appeal helps ease their struggle. Please prayerfully consider how you can support this appeal. More information can be found at usccb.org/home-missions.
 
fleur cross logo “Sunday School for Adults” continues this week in the Bradican Room. Please join Fr. Don for adult faith formation on Sunday mornings,  10-11am.
 
fleur cross logo The Catholic Business Network of NOVA Arlington invites you to a Networking Dinner on Thursday, May 10  from 6:30-9pm at Marymount University,  featuring guest speaker Art Bennett. See page 9 for more information.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette will again host a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 7. Registration opens May 7.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call 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 SAVE THE DATE!  Our Summer Theater Program has contracted our summer musical but it is so new we can’t announce it yet!  Still, save the date:  July 25-27, 2018 Performances at Bishop Ireton High School.  The show title and other details will be revealed in coming weeks!

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ April 29, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Can you believe that Easter was already a month ago?  It seems yesterday, until you think of all the things that have been happening since!  The week after Easter Fr. Vu went on vacation, so it seemed like the walls all came in a little closer.  Holy Week and Easter preparations always take a lot of time and energy; our Easter was (I think) the most beautiful Easter I have experienced in 24 years of priesthood.  You came.  A LOT of you came to liturgies, and sang, and prayed like we really knew what we are about.  We entered into the depth of the Mystery of Jesus’ passion and death, and new life, and Easter was so joyful.
 
The week after the Octave of Easter was our national dialogue with Catholics and Methodists.  Fortunately (for me) it was in Arlington, so I didn’t have to travel far and was able to stay on top of things here in the evenings, especially with auction preparations, with Fr. Vu away.  Our dialogue was very fruitful.  Half of our group is doing the usual theological synthesis of documents and writing a paper about how we (Methodists and Catholics) share the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed on many deep levels.  My half of the group decided to put together a beautiful prayer book that families who live with the reality of interchurch belonging will be able to use.  It will include the best of our both traditions, as well as examples of prayers we can do in common.  I have been working on Ritual Texts for Marriage and Christian Burial that will be useful for celebrations when both a Catholic priest/deacon and a Methodist minister preside.  The excitement level about this is huge right now in church circles and I’m so grateful to be the one doing it.  I also offered our Stations of the Cross from St. Mary and St. Bernadette (when you write them yourself there is no battle over copyright!) and our Tre Ore from this year—both are liturgies that Methodists and Catholics can share profoundly.
 
The weekend after that was the AUCTION!  Like the parish picnic last October, there were some who really believed that we couldn’t pull this off.  I gave us a goal of bringing in $100,000 for the school for technology and arts improvements, and some said nobody would come, nobody would spend the money.  I had faith in you and that faith was not in vain.  Rick told me today that we grossed (before expenses) $108,000 for the school auction two weeks ago!  After expenses—and I do believe as we get better at this in coming years we will be able to get our expenses way down—we will clear about $80,000.  I owe you all a debt of gratitude for your faith in our community’s spirit, and the way you supported it.  You are amazing.  Throughout the evening many remarked how many parishioners were there.  Well, you had never been invited before.  Thank you for coming!
 
It is time for formal thanks:  to all of you on the committee, especially Barbara Dalmut our principal, Rick Caporali, Becky Garcia and Pat Creswick who were working on this nearly every day, to our dear friend and landscaping master Nathan Carver who helped us build a gazebo (and later to install it in the center of the playground), to all our donors of auction items, sponsors, our school who contributed projects and parties, a dear thank you to the Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis de Sales who mentored us through the auction process (and software!), to all of you who came and ate a nice dinner, and bid on items which we finally realized weren’t meant to be bargains but opportunites to raise needed funds for our children...  thank you.
 
The week after that was the annual National Workshop on Christian Unity—again, this time locally in Silver Spring so I could be nearby—now, just trying to catch up on all the phone calls and emails that got quickly buried over those days.  If you are trying to contact me and haven’t heard back, I encourage you to send me another message!  And thanks for your patience.  This week is full of all the appointments that had to slide because of these busy weeks.
 
Next week is our annual priests’ convocation in Carroll Valley, PA.  Half of the priests of the diocese go for the first half of the week (I’ll be going the first half), and the second half of the week the rest of the priests will be there.  I believe the topic will be a discussion of 50 years after Humanae vitae, and how the Church has/hasn’t had success in the reception our teachings about life, sexuality and marriage.
 
At some point, probably May 15-18, I will try to go home to visit my mom.  She seems to be rapidly declining, falling a lot because she can’t remember to use her walker.  If you could pray for her (Marie) we would appreciate your prayers.  Let’s pray for all aging parents and that we can help and comfort them.
 
God bless you.
 

Announcements ~ April 22, 2018

fleur cross logo “Sunday School for Adults” continues this week in the Bradican Room. Please join Fr. Don for adult faith formation on Sunday mornings,  10-11am.
 
fleur cross logo Please join us for our monthly Taizé Prayer Service, Monday, April 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 Catholic Home Missions Appeal Collection
Next week, we will take up the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Right now, over 40 percent of dioceses in the US are considered home missions because they are unable to fund essential pastoral work needed in their communities. Your support of this appeal helps ease the struggle of these dioceses. Please prayerfully consider how you can support this appeal. More information can be found at usccb.org/home-missions.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette will again host a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 7. Registration opens May 7.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call 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.

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

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Prayer, holiness, goodness.  These would seem to most of us like the substance of the spiritual life, right?  That wouldn’t be any surprise for Church members, we would presume.  Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and be glad”) early last week without any fanfare and world seems to be surprised by his take on the expectation of holiness for the Christian life.
 
I have to admit I didn’t even know it was out.  I was at the national dialogue between the Methodists and Catholics and it was the Methodists who asked me what I thought about Pope Francis’ newest publication.  I had to admit that I didn’t know yet that it existed.  With Easter and the busy days following I hadn’t even been looking at twitter, the surest way to find out about these things today.  The Methodists were delighted, because their teachings have always focused so centrally on personal holiness.
 
Most things that the Holy Father seems to say today are all leaked and parced before he even gets a chance to talk about them and explain what he is saying.  This time he seems to have stayed well below the radar screen with a document that simply says that God addresses to each one of us, without exception, a universal and personal call to holiness.  Classic Vatican II, back around for another consideration, the universal call to holiness is the source and reason for everything that we do, the mission of the Church.
 
“This is a powerful summons to all of us... Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world... Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission.  The Lord will bring it to fulfillment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens.”
 
I encourage everyone to read it.  “It is long,” said one of our Methodists, “180 paragraphs.”  One of the Catholics said, “Yes, Pope Francis writes long documents.”
 
I thought I would never get through Laudato Sí, and am so glad that I did.  Evangelii Gaudium— well, there are still sections that I haven’t gotten to.  I really need to read this new exhortation, too.  I encourage all of us to make this a goal, to see what the Church actually is teaching today—not some (usually not even Catholic) interpreter’s version, or a misquoted, misleading account of what the Pope is saying by someone who wants to see him fall.  There are many people today, as always, who would love to see the Church fall.  Maybe we should start a “book club” that meets monthly just to talk about what the Church is teaching today. 
 
It is often surprising to me how little the Church actually receives her own teachings.  When I teach classes and Vatican II comes up, I like to ask the group how many have actually read Vatican II?  Usually, in a group of 100, maybe two hands will go up.  But everyone has an opinion about it.  My parents were convinced that Vatican II was bad—not because they had ever read even a paragraph of it—but because of the abuses (primarily in faithfulness of catechesis and quality of liturgy) of the 60s and 70s which claimed justification by some “spirit of Vatican II” when what they were doing had nothing to do with Vatican II at all.
 
It concerns me greatly as we look around the Church today and see a growing distrust in the Second Vatican Council by people who still have never confronted the texts, texts which are beautiful and faithful, and which were promulgated by nearly all of the bishops of the world (was it 98%?).  It seems people embrace a time before today for which they have no personal memory, for rites and practices that have been romanticized much as is the greener grass on the other side of the fence.  I am so thankful for the beautiful spirit of Vatican II which has been preserved in our parish community at Saint Bernadette.  We are living our faith with a living Tradition, not artifacts on a museum shelf, “Look but don’t touch.”  Rather, take your hand and put it into my side, and see that it is I whom you seek.  There is no alternative to full, active, conscious participation—not only in the liturgy, but also in the life and order of the Church, in loving service, dialogue and relationship.
 
My first approach to Gaudete et Exsultate seems to be an encounter with Church teaching which, like our Mass today, might not be called “traditional” according to some who favor fashions that come and go, but certainly is “ancient” and abiding in our life with God and each other.
 
God bless you.
 

Anouncements ~ April 15, 2018

fleur cross logo Please join us as we celebrate our patron Saint Bernadette’s Feast Day on Monday evening, April 16 at 7:30pm in the Church. Light refreshments will be offered immediately following the Mass.
 
fleur cross logo Registration is now open for “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” by Edward Sri. This five-session course begins April 19 at 9:45am in the Bradican Room. There is a $25 participation fee to cover materials. Please contact the parish office to register.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette will again host a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 7. Registration opens May 7.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call 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.

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

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
You may have noticed... we have broken ground!  We are already a few days behind schedule with permits and building the temporary road for construction equipment, but it is begun!  We are still on for an August 15 completion date so we are ready to welcome 20 new Pre-K students to Saint Bernadette School!
 
You can see at the right, the upper floorplan shows the space of my old office which has been completely gutted. You can see in the upper right corner the back half of the chapel, which might give you a better sense of location. Also, the room called “Conference” is our one first-floor conference room in the Parish Center, the room we refer to as 100, inside the front door of the office and up a few steps.
 
The drawing below shows how we will add additional square footage to the classroom floorplan and connect it directly to the existing pre-school classroom. The children will share the private playground that is currently outside the classroom. It is going to be a great solution and help ensure greater enrollment in upper grades from here on. Hopefully, people will become integral parts of our parish community in the school and stay through 8th grade.
 
One of the great features and bonuses of this plan is that the additional square footage will provide for a nice, generous balcony off the youth ministry rooms on the second floor with beautiful views of the woods and Accotink Creek. If you can’t find me sometime, perhaps that is where I will be!
 
This is the first phase of summer 2018 construction. We plan to get a head start on the school administrative spaces, perhaps as early as mid-May when building permits are received. We will expand existing offices, and add along Wisdom Hall much-needed private offices for our assistant principal, registrar, curriculum coordinator and counselor, all very necessary offices. And to add that, we will be able to expand the faculty break room and clinic, and add a conference room. The plan now is to have this work also done, at least as much as is needed to open school without disturbance, by August 21 when the teachers come back from the summer.
 
Hard to believe we are already talking about the end of the summer... but I wanted to keep you up-to-date on our developments. It is an exciting time!
 
I hope you are still holding onto the joy of Easter!
 
God bless you.
 

Announcements ~ April 8, 2018

divine mercy image jesus2 website fleur cross logo Join us at 3pm today for Divine Mercy Devotions in the church.
 
 fleur cross logo Today is the last day to purchase tickets for our Biannual Saint Bernadette School Auction. Please join us April 14 for a wonderful evening with a beautifully catered dinner, live and silent auctions. Tickets are $75 per person or a table of 10 for $650. Alumni tables welcome!  A preview of auction items is now available at the Saint Bernadette School website. After today no addtional tickets will be sold, we must provide the caterer a final count in the Monday, April 9.
 
 fleur cross logo Please join us as we celebrate our patron Saint Bernadette’s Feast Day on Monday evening, April 18 at 7:30pm in the Church. Light refreshments will be offered immediately following the Mass.
 
fleur cross logo Bishop Burbidge will celebrate a Respect Life Mass at 9am on Saturday, April 21 at the Cathedral, all are invited.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette will again host a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 17. Registration opens May 7.
 
fleur cross logo Registration is now open for “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” by Edward Sri. This five-session course begins April 19th at 9:45am in the Bradican Room. There is a $ 25 participation fee to cover materials. Please contact the parish office to register.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our Catholic School.  We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call 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.

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

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

There is a sense of great peace and comfort each year when, after the last Mass is done and all is finally quieting down, you reflect that the Lord rose from the dead just as anticipated and all is right with the world. He rose from the dead despite our imperfections and shortcomings, his loving Presence doesn’t rely on our level of perfection... everything is gift. The temptation to treat all this like some kind of “reenactment” that depends on us can cause us to forget sometimes that God is in charge and does all things well. Remember from our parish mission back at the beginning of Lent (seems so, so long ago, doesn’t it?) that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love is complete and constant. It is our love which needs to grow and become more constant, growing out of our gratitude.

That said, still, I think we did some really beautiful liturgies this year. When Bishop Burbidge was here on Easter Sunday after Mass he gave our music director, David Mathers, the finest compliment. He said, “Boy, they were really singing! You must be doing something right.” More than right, downright beautiful, and it was a very challenging schedule. Not only the amazing liturgies of the Sacred Triduum which were carefully prepared and lovingly given by our choirs and musicians, but also all Good Friday afternoon with our Tre Ore, and rehearsals. Our thanks are due to David Mathers and all our music ministers who responded to what we needed, and helped us welcome huge crowds of people to all liturgies this year. Our thanks to our altar servers, ushers, lectors, ministers of Holy Communion—everyone who played a role in these beautiful experiences of living in Christ. Thanks to Fr. Vu and Deacon John, our decorators and sacristy volunteers, and all.

Of course we are still in the Octave of Easter this year, the ancient understanding of Sabbath fulfilled in Christ. In the old order of days shabat was the Israelite observance of God’s day of rest in creation, the seventh day, Saturday. The Jewish observance of Sabbath is still on Saturday. But we Christians say that God went back to work on the eighth day of the week in Christ, with the work of our redemption: he is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. All time begins in him and ends in him, so the first day of the week is also the eighth, the Lord’s Day. His work of redemption is a new creation, a day that didn’t exist before. The ancient baptismal celebration of the Easter Vigil and the Sacraments of Initiation defined this understanding between grace and time. For this reason in the tradition baptistries are often designed based on an octagon. How good it is that God has given us both the life/grace and the means by which the community is formed as its dwelling place.

As I write this week’s letter it is Wednesday morning and I have just returned from the gathering in Washington for the Rally2EndRacism on the 50th anniversary of the assasination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We need to bring our message of new life to our culture and help people to see that God treats all of us the same, with the same limitless love and mercy. Member churches of the National Council of Churches came together with leaders of many other religions. Christians met at the Martin Luther King monument at dawn and walked silently in prayer to the Mall for day-long presentations. Let’s make part of our Easter observance a commitment to reach out to all people in love, in the same way that God doesn’t see color, or country of origin, or power. It is time for all this unnecessary hatred and suffering to cease, and for us to start making amends as a part of our Easter life, new life, new beginnings.

God bless you.

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Announcements ~ April 1, 2018

 Happy Easter!

 
fleur cross logo The liturgy sheet for Mass today begins on page 7 of this bulletin.  Please take a bulletin per family, and leave the rest in the vestibule for people to use at later Masses on Easter.
 
There is only one more week to purchase tickets to our Biennial Saint Bernadette School Auction. Please join us April 14 for a wonderful evening with a beautifully catered dinner, live and silent auctions. Tickets are $75 per person or a table of 10 for $650. Alumni tables welcome! You can find an online version of our auction catalogue on our parish and school websites. Our goal is to raise $100,000 to provide excellence in Technology and the Arts. Please visit stbernschool.org to purchase tickets.
 
fleur cross logo Our Second Collection this Easter weekend is a Special Collection for Parish Building Fund. Thank you for your generosity.
 
fleur cross logo Parish offices are closed on Easter Monday, but some evening activities will still be held.  Please check with your ministry leaders to confirm schedules.
 
fleur cross logo Divine Mercy Devotions will be scheduled for 3pm on the Second Sunday of Easter, April 8.
 
fleur cross logo ECHO’s Yard Sale will be held in the Saint Bernadette gym on Saturday, April 7 from 8am-12pm. Proceeds from the sale will be used to help meet ECHO’s financial requirements.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette will again host a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 17. Registration opens May 7, 2018.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ April 1, 2018 ~ Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
On the cover is an odd photo I took when I was in the Holy Land last January.  I know, photos may not be really appropriate in holy places, and I probably should not have taken this one (let alone publish it on our bulletin cover).  But the moment was so compelling, almost overwhelming, as it has been every time I have been here.
 
For me, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest place in the world.  In one sense, I suppose, you could say the whole world and everything in it and everyone in it is holy, because the incarnate Son of God was here.  Though he ascended, he didn’t leave; his presence still fills everything as his Spirit is poured out upon the earth.
 
But in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre you visit both Calvary and the Empty Tomb of Jesus.  The church is built around/upon these holy places.  You can crouch beneath the altar built upon the stone of Golgotha and reverence the very spot where Jesus’ Cross was erected, inserted into the Rock.  It is the Rock - you can see it - where Jesus’ blood ran, the rock that has been revered by believers without interruption since the day of his crucifixion.  It is real.
 
Centered beneath what is now a great rotunda, is an ancient chapel built, literally, on the ground which was leveled around the Tomb of Jesus.  The floor of the Tomb is the level of the floor of the church, and you can enter this tiny, holy place only three people at a time.  There is a small antechamber with a pedestal holding a piece of the original stone that was rolled before the entrance to the Tomb; the entrance itself you must bow to enter, a doorway decorated in the Byzantine period when St. Helen built shrines at all the holy places, and later by the Crusaders when the original structures needed to be repaired and enlarged for the pilgrims who have continuously traveled here.  It is real.
 
You enter this tiny space with two other people, and kneel on the floor.  Directly in front of you is a slab of marble upon which the Body of Jesus was placed after being taken down from the Cross and held by his Mother, Mary.  You get this feeling often in the Holy Land that these are the sights, the rocks, even these ancient trees, the places that Jesus himself saw.  Even some of the flagstones of the original Way of the Cross through the Old City of Jerusalem have been excavated and raised to the modern street level so you can know that Jesus carried his Cross here.  The slab in the Tomb is cracked; it was broken intentionally by believers when Jerusalem was being conquered, so that it would not be scavenged as a building material for a new building.
 
You kneel in the Tomb only for a moment, the line is long outside and there is an Orthodox priest telling people to keep moving.  But it is just long enough for the fact to sink in:  This is the place where they laid him.  Jesus’ Body was here, and it is here that the greatest miracle of all took place in the silence of the eternity of God which we could not bear to see, at least not now.  It is the place where the eternal Son of God, without beginning or end, is conquering death with life.
 
In that moment I held my phone one inch above the broken slab of Jesus’ Tomb and took a photo up in the air.  This is the best Easter photo of all:  it is the view up from the slab into the space where the risen Jesus arose.  He is our life, our self, our now and our future.
 
The photo includes some Crusader period marble carving, some flowers, an icon of the risen Christ (to help our imaginations, I presume), and some Byzantine-style oil lamps, dozens of them in the air above the tomb.  But for me it is a photo of eternity in a moment of time.
 
He is here, always before me.  He has gone to the depths of our human experience before us - to the darkest depths as well as the most beautiful fullnesses of what it means to be human.  He has touched our humanity with divine Life in such a way that we are a new creation.  And now he has freed us from the pointlessness of death, to reveal a beginning.  “I died, and now I live.”
 
We wish you profound peace and light in the midst of so much confusion and darkness.  I pray that Easter joy can overwhelm you and bring you to deep knowledge and love for God, and unwavering confidence in his love for you.
 
God bless you.

 

 

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