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Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Sometimes you can be surprised by how much you don't know! Or that you've been wrong for 25 years. I discovered this week that some customs which have been in effect in every parish and with every pastor I have ever served aren't, actually, according to the law of the Church.
For all these years I have been under the impression that in order to receive a sacrament or a sponsor certificate you would have to be a registered parishioner. It turns out "registration" is not found in Canon Law. The authority of a pastor extends juridically for those who live within the borders of a parish, and if people wish to register from outside the borders, the parish is able to serve them as well.
All these years we have been forcing people to register if they come to the office asking for these things. What has resulted is a very inflated picture of the actual active members of the parish. I'm guessing the real parish is probably half as large. So many people register to be Godparents or to receive sacraments and we never hear from them again.
So here is how it works now. If you are seeking a Sponsor certificate, we can provide it for anyone, whether registered here or anywhere, or not. It is basically a statement that you fill out, under oath, that you are a practicing Catholic, fully initiated in the Church (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist), that you are at least 16 years of age, if married that you were married in a Catholic wedding, and that you will support the person you are sponsoring as a good example and spiritual guide. The testimony is yours before God, and Ivonne or Kendra will witness your signature and and seal the certificate as a legal document.
It is a little more complicated for sacraments. For example, if you seek baptism for your child, you do not need to register here, or anywhere. If you are registered here or live within our parish boundaries, there is no question. If you are registered in another parish, we need a letter of permission from the pastor of that parish. If you are not registered anywhere, you will need to obtain a letter of permission from the pastor of the parish in whose boundaries your residence lies.
As I said in my memo to the parish staff, on one hand it seems like we are giving up. On the other hand, it just seems like we are being honest. To register just to get what you want doesn't really make you a member in the active sense of a practicing, active member serving God and the Church. Also, it is not up to the parish to prove somehow the intentions of the person seeking the certificate to support another person in the faith; it is the integrity of their word, which we only witness and seal.
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A special thanks to all those who worked so intensely to produce our summer show, Kiss Me Kate. I had the privilege to attend all five shows this year and don't think I have ever had the chance to watch young actors grow so quickly in the craft of singing and dancing, in their confidence and in the way they opened up to the audience. I can see why such a dedicated staff of producers, director, conductor, costume makers and choreographer come back each year as volunteers to make this happen! Many of them were in the cast many years ago and realize how much this changed them and helped them to grow, and they are paying it back. So, thanks. A special thanks to Bill and Anna Molino, who help put it together!
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Watch the next few bulletins for information about new groups and programs in the parish. Saint Bernadette Women's Group is forming. They are planning a Bunco night on August 20 at 7pm in the Bradican Room—all women are invited to bring a friend! We are also calling on young adults in the parish to start a Young Adults' Group. After a year of no available space for new programs, we think we have figured out a way to introduce the Alpha Series to anyone interested, both an Alpha Series for adults as well as for youth. If you are curious, look at alphausa.org/ catholic. You may have noticed we have added classes in Faith Formation for youth in high school who may be looking for more of a classroom approach to learning the Faith.
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Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a very special Buddhist event which is coming here August 24-25. We are honored to host the Capital Area Tibetan Association's visit by the 7th Yongzi Ling Rinpoche, who was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of his Senior Tutor. He has traveled all over the world to teach Buddhists and will be here teaching the Buddhist community in the gym in the mornings. We are all invited to a vegetarian lunch on Sunday, August 25 at noon, an interreligious prayer/dialogue from 2:30-4pm, followed by a presentation of Tibetan Culture at 4:30pm. Please see p. 10 for details.
God bless you.