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Announcements ~ May 7, 2017

* 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

* Our first Called and Gifted Workshop will be held on August 18-19. Please see page 8 for more information, and find the registration form on page 9!

* Catholic Home Missions Appeal Collection This week, we take up the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Right now, over 40 per cent 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.

* The Second Collection next weekend is for parish special needs. Please consider giving to our second collection next weekend for work we are doing in the parish this summer. This weekend again we will be collecting contributions for the renovation of public bathrooms in the school and church vestibule. Thanks for your generosity.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ May 7, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

pastorAs I write this, I haven’t yet left, but as you read it, I will already be back this week from the annual National Workshop on Christian Unity, this year, in Minneapolis. Each year ecumenical and interreligious leaders gather at this Workshop to keep relationships current and talk about the progress of local and national activities and documents which shape our shared life, as baptized persons who seek Jesus’ will for full, visible Communion, as well as how we are doing reaching out to people of different faiths as a united Christianity. Our divisions are simply confusing to most non-Christians: why should they want to talk to us if we can’t even figure out how to talk to one another? At perhaps the most pivotal moment of Jesus’ life on this earth, between Last Supper and Calvary, Jesus prayed to his Father that we might be one, even as perfectly united as he is to his Father—not just so that we might be united, which is essential to being Church—but he added the final explanation, “so that the world might believe that you sent me” (Jn. 17).

We realize that Jesus prayed for the most important things on his last night on earth as a man—this being one of them—and that he would pray to the Father only in such a way that their wills be united.  The love he has for the Father is transparently clear, including all of us who believe in his name.

So I wonder why this has not been a priority in our Church?  We have the annual meetings, we have official national and international dialogues that virtually no one is paying attention to, and in our hearts we know that we have to share the air with non-Catholics in a way that is respectful, even reverent.  But we seem to have missed the connection that it is precisely Christ in you that I serve, and when I serve you, it is Christ in me that you encounter.  According to Vatican II (Nostra aetate) this presence of Christ in you exists in non-baptized persons in seed form, whether they are aware of it or not, because all of us come from God and it is God’s will that all of us return to him.  All of us... so we need to get to work!

I served as the national director of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (cadeio.org) for the past six years and as I look back on it, I can say that there are only a handful of bishops and priests that are even keeping this alive?  Despite the fact that the last five Popes have all expressed this notion that Christian unity is not something we do on the side as an extracurricular activity; it is essential to the life and future of Christianity.  What we share in common is far greater than what we disagree about—not that the things we disagree about aren’t important—but we more often focus on the differences to protect our sense of identity.  We define ourselves more easily by simply saying we are not Protestant, or Jewish, or Muslim, even though the majority of Church probably wouldn’t be able to tell you actually who they are and what beliefs define them.  Of all who self-identify as Catholic in the United States, about half actually attend Mass on Christmas and Easter.  That means half don’t come at all.  What the surveys call “regular attendance” means once a month:  that is about 30% of American Catholics.

I realize that much of this is my fault—as director for these things for the diocese I need to get in gear and start talking more.  We need to get our parishes to start a groundswell of activity and good will, going out and knocking on the door of the nearby church and greeting them.  Let us celebrate the many outreach programs and services that we share with our Christian sisters and brothers.  And, above all, let’s come to terms with what it means to say that you and I are equally baptized:  “there is one faith, one baptism, one Lord, one God and Father of all, who is in all...”
 
The so-called Reformation began with Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, 500 years ago this October 31.  It only became clear to me recently that the whole Reformation wasn’t a “Protestant-Catholic problem;”  it is a Catholic-Catholic problem.  There were many factors: corruption, politics, controls of universities that magnified this struggle between religious orders.  Things happened for the wrong reasons.  But the true reformation didn’t begin until we started talking about 50 years ago with Vatican II.  Let’s talk.
 
God bless you,
 
 

 

Announcements ~ April 30, 2017

* 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.
 
* There is still room in both the morning and evening sessions for our Bible Timeline Class that begins on May 4. Please contact the parish office to register.
 
* Our first Called and Gifted Workshop will be held on August 18-19. Please see page 8 for more info!
 
* Catholic Home Missions Appeal Collection ~This week, we take up the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Right now, over 40 per cent 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.
 
* Trinity Dome Second Collection next weekend. Bishops of the United States approved a special one-time second collection for the Trinity Dome. Your prayerful and financial support will not only adorn this “Crowning Jewel” and complete Mary’s Shrine, but will also leave a lasting legacy for generations to come in this living monument to our Catholic faith and heritage that is America’s Catholic Church.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ April 30, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Whenever a big event happens in your life, it’s always important somehow to keep a record of it. However that may be, photos or videos, or collected notes, these are the things that anchor us in life. Whenever there is a flood or tornado and people have lost everything, the thing they call their greatest loss is their photo albums, because you can’t recreate these things. I guess today we have the cloud, but you get my point. When we prepare the bulletin it is always more common to get requests to invite people to the next thing, and the next, and the next, but it is rare that someone sends in a piece about something that has happened, a record of events that have taken place that we can publish for the future.
 
The Jewish people realized this almost too late, when they had been a generation in exile and became aware that the new generation was at risk for not hearing the ancient oral traditions that formed their identity.They were at risk of forgetting who they were. It was at that point that our forefathers and mothers began to commit to writing the many stories and events that shaped them as Scriptures. Beginning with the oldest accounts of creation in Genesis, they began to write down all that had been passed from generation to generation, to ensure that nothing would be lost from that day forward.
 
Imagine where we would be today if it were not for the four Gospel writers or Saint Paul? If we did not have a concrete resource that gave us eyewitness accounts of events that happened 2,000 years ago—where would we be? Truly, as great as the events themselves might be, they are only as effective as the reports made of them.  We believe that the Holy Spirit is active in the unfolding life of the Church which follows the era of Jesus on this earth, but this development is something that necessarily requires the agency of humans, who with their intellect and artistry are able to somehow grasp at aspects and qualities of the Mysteries which confront us, and which we live everyday.
 
We are in the middle of such a time, both on the small scale and large. On the small scale, you and I have experiences of faith and individually have made discoveries and decisions (I hope) with the events surrounding Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection in this Lent, Holy Week and Easter Season. Have these events touched you?  In what way?  Can you communicate this to others?  There are a thousand small examples of things you may have realized for the first time, or how a different way of celebration has triggered a new resolution in you.  If so, you must share it!  The event is your life is only as real to the Church as your ability to share it with someone else who may be looking for a new hope, or some kind of confirmation that this faith is something that truly touches people today.
 
If we pass through these sacred Mysteries of Christ untouched or unaffected, then we have not allowed them to do their work. They don’t exist on their own: they exist to change us. But we must somehow facilitate that change, open our hearts and allow God to go to work.
 
Theology must leave the realm of idea and become a living reality, something we can touch, something that others can see and, in seeing, believe.
 
On the large scale, we have a lot of work to do, witnessing to what we ourselves have seen and heard. There aren’t going to be more Gospels added, or even our most powerful letters aren’t going to be added to some kind of New Testament, Volume II.  But the way we live our lives—neither in conformity nor in opposition—in relation to the world around us is going to make faith a living reality. Theology becomes religion in action. It is no longer just a set of rules I have to follow or hoops I have to jump through—it is something that I embrace because God has shown his love for me, and I love in return. I love him, and I love you.
 
This is the living Gospel that the world is longing to hear. The events of life today, still touched by the truth of the Gospel and the grace of God, which continue to prove that God is here. These stories now come from you, and the events must be communicated and somehow preserved as treasures for the community of the future. These are our foundations that each generation builds as a living legacy.
 
God bless you,
 
 
 
 
 

Announcements ~ April 23, 2017

* Join us today for Divine Mercy Devotions at at 3pm in the church.
 
* 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
 
* There is still room in both the morning and evening sessions for our Bible Timeline Class that begins on May 4. Please contact the parish office to register.
Our first Called and Gifted Workshop will be held on August 18-19. Please see page 8 for more info!
 
* 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.
 
* Volunteers needed to host our coffee and donuts table on Sunday’s after morning Masses! We encourage all groups and families to participate in this joyful service to our parishioners. To sign up, please email officemanager@stbernpar.org or contact the parish office. This is a great opportunity for your ministry to meet and greet fellow parishioners!

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ April 23, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Happy Easter!  We continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, the event that changes everything.  I hope you are finding this change renewing.
 
For us priests the Sacred Triduum (the three days of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection) began with Bishop Burbidge and the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.  At the Chrism Mass a preparation takes place for all that follows in liturgies of the next few days.  The bishop blesses all the oils that are to be used in the coming year for sacramental celebrations:  Oil of Catechumens for those preparing for Baptism; Oil of the Sick for those who are anointed for healing and so-called “last rites”; and Sacred Chrism, oil mixed with perfume which, when consecrated, becomes the form under which we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit first in Baptism, then in Confirmation, and Holy Orders.  This year we commissioned a simple ambry to be made, a place where we can display the sacred oils during the Easter Season.  You can find them in front of the altar as part of our Easter sanctuary.

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They are generally kept near the baptismal font, here, near the temporary font we have installed for the Easter Season.  We did this so that all who attended the Easter Vigil celebration of sacraments could witness the baptism of 15 newly-received Catholics.
 
If you look at the cover of the bulletin today, you can see the path that is extablished to the Resurrection, Jesus’ cross draped with the symbolic white garment of baptism and resurrection.  In baptism we die with Christ, Saint Paul says, so that we might also rise with him.  The path begins with the font, from where we pass through the sacraments (oils) to the altar, to the source and summit of our life, the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is both Last Supper Table and Calvary Cross, the complex Mystery of life and death, now uniting the human and the divine.
 
The Paschal Candle, another of the most important symbols of the Christian life, stands near the ambo (or pulpit).  The candle, with the white garment, are the symbols of our time away from the Lord while on this earth.  The Paschal Candle will remain lit until Pentecost.  Once the Easter Season has ended, the candle is only lit for two reasons:  one, the celebration of baptisms; second, Funeral Masses.  At the funeral a pall, or white garment, is placed over the casket.  Along with the candle they mark the end of our time away from the Lord on this earth, to a timelessness when symbols are no longer necessary.  We will behold the entire Truth with our own eyes.
 
Consider for a moment what would have happened if, after all that Jesus has done for us, the disciples would have just remained silent?  Well, God’s will would somehow have been accomplished, but on our part nothing would have happened.  Such great deeds require voices to proclaim them for them to be known by others.  The disciples went out and thousands of people were baptized every day, on the testimony given by the Apostles of what they, themselves, had seen and heard.  Let us, now having been both witnesses and active participants in these sacred Mysteries, go out and share the joy that we have found, and the grace and mercy that is ours.
 
God bless you.
  
 

Announcements ~ The Resurrection of the Lord, April 16, 2017

* The Liturgy Sheet for today’s Mass begins on page 7 of this Easter Sunday bulletin. Please take home a bulletin (one per family), and leave the rest for people to use at later Masses on Easter.
 
* Our Second Collection this Easter weekend is a Special Collection for Parish Development and Maintenance. Thank you for your generosity. Your gifts will help us to maintain and beautify the parish property.
 
* You are invited to Divine Mercy Devotions 3pm on the Second Sunday of Easter, April 23.
 
* Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, www.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!
 
* ECHO Yard Sale will be held in St. Bernadette gym on April 22 from 8am-12pm. Proceeds from the sale will be used to help meet ECHO’s financial requirements.
 
* Our first Called and Gifted Workshop will be held on August 18-19, 2017. Mark your calendars and invite your friends. For more information see page 16: registration opens April 17, 2017
                         
* THANK YOU! for meeting our goal for the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Please watch for parish development plans in upcoming bulletins.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ The Resurrection of the Lord, April 16, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Happy Easter!  The reason we are here is today is that, in the Mystery of Baptism that we renew in our hearts today, we stay young. Life is always new.  In a recent survey of youth in our country, when asked why they have left the Church, many replied that it is nothing more than the Easter bunny and Santa Claus, that they outgrew it. Let’s take the time today to tell our children about this new life: if we understand what God is giving us we never grow old, we certainly never outgrow it, because it grows in us. This risen life of Christ is now within you.
 

Today is a new beginning. It is the day that you and I must begin again affirming the centrality of Jesus in our lives. And every day we must remind ourselves that he did not do all of this just for me. Although theologians have said, it is true, that if even only one person made up God’s creation, Jesus would still have suffered, died and risen for that one person, the entirety of his teaching reveals to us that Jesus’ saving death and resurrection was done for us and for our salvation. He came to give us life, life to the full, as one Body (his) united in the love of God, emp- tied out of love for the Father  and filled with the Holy Spirit. Our Vigil Mass this weekend is focused entirely on the sacraments which bring this Church into Being:  He did everything to make us one. We are his.

 
As such, we are called to restore in our lives this Church family as central to our lives. If the Church hasn’t been central to our lives this far, we need to discover it. Sadly today, a lens of selfishness, individuality, has clouded and confused this singular Mission of Jesus, and his Church.  churches put their logos on Bibles and call it theirs; one would like to claim that he has the answer (and they don’t, whoever they are).  But none of us can claim any of it as our own: all is God’s, and we are God’s, and somehow God has invited us to be a part of this life.  And if God stopped thinking about us for even a moment, we would cease to be.
 
Have you ever had the feeling that you don’t exist to some people?  It is an experience that I have more and more as I get older. I can be standing somewhere, sometimes even in the hallway at school or the vestibule after Mass, and if I don’t actively engage people and catch their attention, they simply pass by without acknowledging that I’m even there, eyes averted, not connecting. I’m a priest...if it’s happening with me it certainly is happening to someone set aside or in need.  But this isn’t about me, at all;  I watch people who pass by each other all the time (literally, all the time) without any connection at all.  It is possible, I suppose, to say that we live in a world that is somewhat scary and that there are strangers you would not want to engage. Let us build a community at Saint Bernadette where we can all greet one another, care for one another, and together reach out to those who are seeking the new life that we have been given.  It is a new life of joy, of peace, and a spirit of service that will allow us to be the risen Christ to the world around us.
 
After all—isn’t that exactly what Jesus did, first by his Incarnation and then by his Cross and Resurrection, break down the barrier that kept us from his Presence? His Presence that heals and consecrates, that reconciles and invites us every day to a deeper sharing in his life?  He catches
our gaze, he speaks the first Word of introduction and gathers us into his circle of life. He greets us first, and invites us to offer the same peace to one another. All are reconciled in Christ. The preface of one of the EucharisticZPrayers expresses it beautifully. “Though the human race is divided...you change our hearts...  By your Spirit you move human hearts that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands, peoples seek to meet together...  Hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, discord is changed to mutual respect.”
 
Thanks for being good witnesses to this new life!  See the fruit of so many people who, from our soup suppers and Stations of the Cross, from our prayer and penance, from our Lenten sharing, have come to this day of new life together.
 
God bless you.
 
 

Announcements ~ April 9, 2017

* We joyfully welcome more than 6,000 people to our four beautiful Masses on Easter Sunday. Please make note. First Mass on Easter Sunday is a bit earlier, 7:45am instead of 8am.  Our intent is to provide a little more parking lot space between the first two Masses.  Also, please remember there will be no 5pm Mass on Easter Sunday afternoon.  Thanks for your flexibility.
 
* Please find the Sacred Triduum schedule for Holy Week on page 9 of today’s bulletin.  During this period of three holy days, we ask that regular parish activities be suspended and everyone try to come as much as possible to our liturgies.
 
* Divine Mercy Devotions will be scheduled for 3pm on the Second Sunday of Easter, April 23.
 
* Please send in your pledge for the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal if you haven’t already. We are asking every household in our parish to support this appeal to the extent you are able.  We are at 91% of our goal!
 
* Pontifical Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land - 800 Years of Franciscan Presence, Care, Service. At this time of year, the entire Catholic community participates in the support of Christians in the Holy Land. The Good Friday Collection is the primary means for support. It is a Ponifical Collection requested by Pope Francis, and your support is truly appreciated. Visit www. myfranciscan.org, for more information.
 
* The second collection on Easter Sunday is for  Parish Buildings and Maintenance. We are refreshing our Church and School Bathrooms.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ April 9, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
I walked out of the office last week toward the end of an afternoon and this is what I saw!  With so much on the horizon for Holy Week, it was for me  a message of hope and promise of the beauty of the resurrection, just how beautiful is the light that follows the darkness of a storm!
 
Come, gather this Thursday, as we re-present this event of our salvation, the institution of Eucharist and Priesthood when Jesus literally came into his own and fulfilled the plan formed by God from the beginning of the world.  The Meal and the Cross form a unity such that they cannot be separated either from themselves or from the dawn of new life in resurrection.  For this reason the three days of the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) cannot be separated, they form one continuous liturgy which begins with the Last Supper and ends with the Empty Tomb.  The tomb makes no sense without the ultimate sacrifice; likewise, the sacrifice This is my Body, this is my Blood makes no sense without a victory, his passing over the darkness and silence of our death.  You will notice we only begin once with the customary sign of the Cross, only once do we end with the final blessing after the Vigil Mass: they form a continuous whole, one liturgy of the saving Mystery of Jesus. 
 
There is something rare about what happens on Good Friday.  We observe the three hours of Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross, and people became accustomed to the Stations of the Cross in the few centuries before Vatican II before the restoration of the ancient Triduum in 1969, but these are really private meditations and devotions.  Neither of these actually belong to the particular ancient Tradition of the Church for this day.  We intentionally gather in the darkness of Good Friday evening to recognize the emptiness of the church where, for one day,
 
Jesus is not present among us.  We recognize the impact of this event:  no sacraments may be celebrated because the Lord of Life has died.  We listen to Saint John’s account of his Passion.  We venerate the wood of the Cross, the instrument of our salvation.  We receive Communion, leftover from Holy Thursday which is brought into our space from outside.
 
The Apostles took up the commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, because his Death and Resurrection are at the heart of our salvation, our Passover. At least by the second century, Christians celebrated the Great Easter Vigil, an event which began the night of Holy Saturday, continuing until dawn on Easter morning. During this vigil, Christians commemorated salvation history, awaited the return of Jesus, and celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus at dawn on Easter Sunday. It was at the Vigil that catechumens, after a three-year period of catechesis, were baptized and received first Communion. The Easter Vigil is the most important day of the liturgical year.  Imagine if our Vigil were to start at sundown and end at sunrise, as in the early Church!  As it is, it lasts several hours, as we only include seven readings and psalm responses from Scripture, instead of listening to the Word of God all night until the new light of dawn.  At that moment of Resurrection we sing, again, the Glory to God and the light of Christ, blessed and venerated, floods our hearts and minds with the new life of Christ himself.
 
Easter Sunday Masses are the celebration of our new life in Baptism as we gather for the sole purpose to proclaim the joy of our new life, as we renew our promises and are sprinkled in the waters of the Easter font of rebirth.  A day of ultimate Joy, we gather for no other reason than to celebrate and give thanks. Join us for these amazing days.
 
God bless you.
 
 
 
 
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Called and Gifted Workshop
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