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Announcements - February 12, 2017

  • There is still time to signup to host group for our Lentenfriends Small Group Program. Sign up forms are in the vestibule of the church or visit lentenfriends.org. to register as a host. Our first week to gather is February 26, our topic will be “Healing through the Eucharist.
 
  • Also, Participant signup is now OPEN. Please visit signupgenius.com, click find a Signup and enter pathways@stbernpar.org, and select a group of your choice. Some groups are already formed, Groups with open seats welcome you. Contact the parish office for more information. Please join us!
 
  • End of Year of Contribution Statements have been mailed. Please contact the parish office if you should have any question.

Fr. Don's weekly Letter ~ February 5, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Our choir pilgrimage is now more than half over, we are in Rome today. I thought I might share with you some of our experiences.


Our time in the Tuscan city of Florence was beautiful—not only perfect weather (although it has been below freezing at the beginning of every day so far, so it is a little chilly—the coldest winter in 30 years) but also all of the wonderful sights and tastes that we get to share together. We sang our first Mass at the Franciscan church of Saint Mark, the church that s connected to the convent where you can find the priceless treasure of the many nuns’ cells decorated with frescoes by Fra Angelico. It was a little dark, and very, very cold in the church, but the choir sounded amazing. These churches were designed with music in mind, along with many other things:
we discovered that we only need to work at making about half the sound in these churches because everything carries. We also learned how well our mistakes carry!


We toured the city, the Duomo, Our Lady of the Flowers (the name of Florence, Firenze, is a derivation of the word fiori, or flowers). The city is so old, and walkable, and we toured some of the world’s greatest art galleries and centers of power, both for the republic of Florence and the Church. So beautifully situated around the Arno River, the city combines the best of Italian culture, from the Renaissance to the modern day.

On our way to Rome on Saturday, we visited the clifftop Umbrian town of Orvieto, with its beautiful Duomo (Cathedral) of Our Lady of the Assumption. This is one you could google and study a little. It is the town of a Eucharistic miracle which gave birth
to the Tradition of the feast day of Corpus Christi. Like Florence, it is a town rich in the development of Renaissance culture, when a reawakening in art and music paved the way to modern day. We chose it because it is a town largely unimpacted by tourism and modern blight: it is a town like you might imagine still to be in the 1600s. After singing at Mass in the cathedral’s Chapel of the Corporal (the Host at Mass bled onto the bishop’s corporal, the cloth that is placed on the altar), a chapel from the 1200s, we went nearby to a 2 1/2 hour lunch! After a little shopping, we headed to Rome.

Since we have been in Rome, we have visited St. Peter Basilica several times. We were first there to sing for the 3:45pm community Mass on Sunday. St. Peter is a place that has something happening all day long, and we were the choir for a regular Sunday Mass at the altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. We were back there again on Monday morning to celebrate a private Mass for our group in a chapel beneath the main altar, at an altar facing the actual tomb of Saint Peter himself. After Mass we toured the Vatican Museum, culminating in a time when we experienced the Sistine Chapel. We were on our own this afternoon; I visited the Pantheon and the ruins at the Roman Forum. When I have been here before we always seem to rush through it on our way to something else... Today we leisurely walked through the centuries of history there.


Tuesday (tomorrow, as I write this) we will go to Assisi and while at the Basilica of Saint Francis we will have a private Mass for our group. These Masses serve also as great opportunities to rehearse for our Thursday night concert at the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome. We also, at every place we stop, pause and pray for all the intentions we carry with us to Italy. I have been praying for all of you in a special way at all of these Masses, for your intentions.

We saw the Pope at his Sunday Angelus talk this past weekend. He stands at a very high window from the Papal Apartments of the Apostolic Palace every Sunday he is in town and gives a homily for the day. He gave a very moving homily on the Beatitudes, particularly in the context of our political divisions and the way in which immigrants and refugees are being treated right now.


We will, again see Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, as I think we have good tickets to see him at his Wednesday audience. Then, best of all, our choir will sing at the Papal Mass, the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord on Thursday afternoon. I went to the Congregation of Religious Orders this morning and picked up my ticket to concelebrate the Mass with the Holy Father! Cool. We will be home before you even read this—consider this my postcard greeting you from all the points along the way of our pilgrimage. We carry with us your prayers, and keep your hearts present to us all along the way. Hopefully we will do this again, and you will be able to join us. There is nothing like Rome anywhere in the world for Catholics, I have to say that when I am here, it feels like home.


God bless you.

 

Announcements ~ February 5, 2017

  • It’s time for each and every registered family to consider how they plan to support the work of the Catholic Church in the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal: If we reflect on the mission that Jesus has given us, and the words of Pope Francis, the Church is uniquely placed by God to be his agent of mercy and change, to heal our world.
    Prayerfully think of how you will respond to this call. Commitment Sunday will be February 25-26 at all Masses. Your generosity is what makes our Church’s response possible. “Offering hands to serve and hearts to love”
 
  • There is still time to signup to host group for our Lentenfriends Program. Sign up forms are in the vestibule of the church or visit lentenfriends.org. to register as a host. Our first week to gather is February 26, our topic will be “Healing through the Eucharist. Participant signup begins February 6. Contact the parish office for more information.Please join us!
 
  • Mark your calendars for February 9 and join Saint Bernadette in Richmond for Catholics in the Capitol as we meet with our Legislators and attend the Bishops’ Evening Prayer and reception at Sacred Heart Cathedral (see pg. 8).
 
  • End of Year of Contribution Statements have been mailed. Please contact the parish office if you should have any questions.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ January 29, 2017

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

As you read this, we are already in Rome, having sung in Florence, Assisi and Orvieto.  I forgot to mention—if you are on Twitter, I’ll be tweeting photos, @frdonrooney.

Last week before we left for Italy I signed a little under 2,000 letters to all of you who have contributed to the parish in the past year.  I’ve done this every year now since being a pastor, and every year I become very much aware of how dependent the mission of the parish is upon your goodness and generosity.  I am deeply grateful to you for what you make possible, and hope you have a sense of accomplishment, of being a part of something wonderful that is larger than any of us.  Not everyone can give a lot—in fact, not that many people do: it is the collective contribution, something from everyone, that makes the difference.  The responsibility of the parish should not rest on the shoulders of a few, anyway. 

Each year we are asked by the diocese to conduct an “offertory enhancement” program of some kind, in which we encourage everyone to actually make a pledge to give more in the coming year.  There is good reason for this.  Just like any area of our lives, we respond to the requests before we ever get to the things we know we should get to.  That is why we have things like the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal each year, because we know that we will respond to the request.  We might not get around to giving—certainly not as much as is needed—if just left up to our memory.  I decided, as the new guy, to get to know the parish before I started asking formally for more.  What I have found here is good.  You are generous, you are supporting your church.  We have a good bank account, and I don’t believe the Church is in the ministry of saving:  we will identify the good works that we want to accomplish in building up our parish community and reaching out as Christ into the community surrounding us.  In the meantime, I ask that you continue to give.  If you would like to skip one Starbuck’s a month per family and give that, in turn, to the parish I wouldn’t argue.  That would add nearly $200,000 to the budget alone!

When my brothers and I were kids we watched our dad write the check every week.  We were far from rich, and lived without a lot of the things we saw that our friends had, but we knew that the Church got his first $20 every week (this was in the 60s and 70s), at times when we knew that there wasn’t a lot to spare.  Maybe this is a reason that my brother and I became priests.  We witnessed our parents’ commitment to the parish.

I wonder if successive generations would remain more faithful to the practice of our faith if parents were to make visible the sacrifices they make in support of the Church, a living example for children to know how to pick up where previous generations left off.  Where your treasure is, there will your heart will also be.  Children watch.

Maybe it was because my grandparents were first and second generation Americans of immigrant families.  They had a keen sense that the only success of the Church would be due to their support.  In this new country, they realized, there would be no benevolent ruler to build new versions of all the beautiful, old churches they knew in the “old country” and maintain them. 

Or, if you visit Central and South America, you’ll find the same remarkable churches from previous centuries.  But with the wave of dictators and 150 years of freemasonry which has sought to destroy the Church in these countries, confiscating properties and murdering, straining faith communities financially to the breaking point, the Church is largely now controlled by the government as a “service” to the people.  Salaries, buildings, maintenance and community development are all subsidized by the government.  At least, this was my experience studying several summers in Mexico and working two years in the Dominican Republic. There is not the direct correspondence between the Sunday Offertory and the survival of the parish in those countries as there is here.  

What can we do to restore the Church as the heart of the community and the center of peoples’ family life?—or is this even an ungrounded, idealized, sentimental vision of a past based on pictures of big, fancy churches and pious stories of pay, pray and obey.  Maybe we need to quit looking at the past: What we have now, Where are we now?

What do we have now?  What if we remove the word “restore” in our question and replace it with the word “build”?  What can we do to build the Church as the heart of the community and the center of our family life?

This is where your office as lay people becomes so important.  Show your children how to be faithful, and talk about these things where there is silence, contribute in the conversation.  Let’s build up.

God bless you.

 

Fr. Don

 

Announcements ~ January 29, 2017

  • It’s time for each and every registered family to consider how they plan to support the work of the Catholic Church in the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal: If we reflect on the mission that Jesus has given us, and the words of Pope Francis, the Church is uniquely placed by God to be his agent of mercy and change, to heal our world. Prayerfully think of how you will respond to this call. Commitment Sunday will be February 25-26 at all Masses. Your generosity is what makes our Church’s response possible. “Offering hands to serve and hearts to love”

 

  • Host sign-ups will begin this weekend online for our Lenten Small Groups Series, “The Doctor’s In: “Pathways to a Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit”. Information may be found on page 7 in today’s bulletin and or visit lentenfriends.org, select Host Group, “St. Bernadette” from the drop down menu. Participant sign up will begin February 6.

 

  • Please come to our School Open Houses. The first, kicks-off Catholic Schools week on Sunday 29 January from 10:30-12:30pm., the second, for new families, will be held on Wednesday, February 1 at 9:30am. Visit our parish website to learn more about our parish school.

 

  • Mark your calendars for February 9 and join Saint Bernadette in Richmond for Catholics in the Capitol as we meet with our Legislators and attend the Bishops’ Evening Prayer and reception at Sacred Heart Cathedral (see pg. 8). We need to know if you plan to come by Monday, January 30.

Bishop Burbidge Celebrates Deanery 2 Mass at St. Bernadette, 23 January

20170123 BB at St Gertrude HJP 41 For Bishop Burbidges homily, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN6ivig7wHI

Announcements, 22 January

The Deanery Mass welcoming our new Bishop Michael Burbidge is this Monday, January 23, 7pm.

All are invited to attend our annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity prayer service with Bishop Burbidge at Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, Arlington, VA Tuesday, January 24 at 7:30pm. Please join us!

There may still be room on the bus for the March for Life on the National Mass this Friday.  Please call the office for more information.

St. Bernadette Parish follows the Fairfax County School System regarding closings for snow and other inclement weather. An announcement will be made even on Saturdays and Sundays because the school buildings are used for extracurricular and community activities on the weekends. Please take this policy into account when scheduling the use of Parish facilities especially during winter months.

Fr. Don's weekly letter, 22 January

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

This Wednesday, January 25, I will going to Italy on a concert tour with the Saint Mary choir. Over a year ago now, we began planning this trip (unfortunately, not knowing that it was Catholic Schools Week!) and I was to go as their pilgrimage chaplain. Then, changes happened, the new pastor at Saint Mary already had plans and couldn’t go, so I decided I would make the sacrifice and go afterall! In the meantime, music director David Mathers (who is with us at Saint Bernadette starting this weekend) realized that he was going to be short on men’s voices, so he recruited Bob Bell and Mike Nolan from here, and asked me if I would sing bass. Like I said, we were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice! We begin in Florence at the duomo, Our Lady of the Flowers, then will sing in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, in the Cathedral in Orvieto, and then several churches in Rome, our final stop being the Papal Mass with Pope Francis at Saint Peter on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2. We will fly home on the 3rd.

I am sorry to be missing Catholic Schools’ Week this year—it sounds like we have a good week planned. Be sure not to miss events that are hosted for you:

—Open House for the parish, Sunday the 29th, 10:30am-12:30pm;

—Welcome and Open House for prospective paents Wednesday the 1st, 9:30-10:30am;

—Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day (send messages of appreciation if you can to our wonderful teachers and staff), Thursday the 2nd.

Other events are happening, but they are for school families only. Please check your calendars and participate as much as you can, celebrating our mission to provide Catholic education!

There are a few events coming up to which I would like to encourage you to attend.

The March for Life is this Friday. It has been a lot of years since I’ve been in a parish that was remotely near the National Mall. The March for Life is one of those institutions that has survived all these years because people continue to show up. Just by showing up we prove that there remains a significant, visible witness for life that cannot be denied, and that we remain steadfast in the hope that hearts will be converted and our culture come to the truth of the holiness of life.

Virginia Advocacy Day is also coming up Thursday, February 9 in Richmond. This is another way the Catholic voice regarding life, the poor, Catholic education, and social and health issues and the like can be heard. I’ve been attending Virginia Advocacy Day hosted by our bishops’ Virginia Catholic Conference (www.vacatholic.org) for a decade, and have always welcomed those who would like to go along. We will gather for discussion about issues and bills that are a part of the legislative agenda concerning Catholic values, and then make appointments to visit the state senators and house members who represent us, to voice our beliefs, concerns and encouragement. This is the second year that the bishops will host Evening Prayer at the Cathedral in Richmond and a reception following in the evening, so I plan to go for the entire day. If you would like to be a part of our Saint Bernadette contingent, please let me know. You will find more information on p. 8.

I wrote a bit about our 2017 Lenten Small Groups Program in last week’s bulletin; you will find information about it on p. 9 of today’s bulletin. I encourage you to seriously consider making a commitment of five meetings as a part of your Lenten observance this year. There is nothing better than praying with Scriptures, except for praying with Scriptures with others. We are one of seven parishes participating in this program this year. Please contact your friends and colleagues and start building foundations for our faith community.

Finally, for those ministries who are already established here at Saint Bernadette, it is quite possible that many people don’t know what you are doing and might like to become active. I would like to encourage all those leading ministries in the parish to take advantage of this bulletin. For too long the parish bulletin has been a place where people just placed "ads" to ask for what they wanted, or to advertise what is coming up. I encourage you to write a story about your ministries. What are your hopes? What are your experiences? What has been happening, and what is coming up where we can get involved? Usually when a relationship begins to slip it is because communication has somehow failed. This parish bulletin is a weekly opportunity to really connect, parishioners to parishioners, and is read by people who are seeking to know what you know. Call me.

God bless you.

Fr. Don Rooney

Announcements, 15 January

Parish Offices will be closed on Monday, January 16 for Martin Luther King Day, as well as Friday, January 20 for Inauguration Day.

We will host the Deanery II Mass for our New Bishop Michael Burbidge at 7pm on Monday, January 23.  A reception will follow in the gym.

All are invited to attend our annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity prayer service with Bishop Burbidge at Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, Arlington, VA Tuesday, January 24 at 7:30pm. Please join us!

St. Bernadette Parish follows the Fairfax County School System regarding closings for snow and other inclement weather. An announcement will be made even on Saturdays and Sundays because the school buildings are used for extracurricular and community activities on the weekends. Please take this policy into account when scheduling the use of Parish facilities especially during winter months.

Fr. Don's weekly letter, 15 January

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

This week on the bulletin cover I chose a painting from 1470 by Venetian Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter’s keys and Paul’s sword clearly identify them as the first Apostles to the Church of Rome, where they gave their lives for the faith.

This week, beginning with Wednesday the 18th and continuing until the 25th, is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, also known as the Christian Unity Octave. We will observe the Week of Prayer with a prayer service with Bishop Burbidge, Bishop Gulick of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Graham of the ELCA Washington, DC, Synod and Rev. Tom Joyce of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Church. We will meet at 7:30pm on Tuesday, January 24, at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, 1500 N. Glebe Rd (just north of I-66), Arlington. I will be preaching on the theme "Reconciliation: the love of Christ compels us" (2 Cor. 5:14-20).

Wednesday in an earlier liturgical calendar was the feast of the Confession of St. Peter; the 25th is the Conversion of St. Paul, and these were the dates chosen by Father Paul Wattson, Servant of God, to bookend an annual observance of prayer and dialogue to heal the wounds of the division in Christianity. Father Paul was born on January 16, 1863 in Millington, Maryland, to Rev. Joseph Wattson and Mary Electa Wattson, and baptized Lewis Thomas Wattson. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1886. In 1898, in collaboration with an Episcopal sister, Lurana White, he helped to found the Society of the Atonement, taking vows of Franciscan poverty, obedience and chastity in the Catholic Church at Graymoor in Garrison, NY, with the mission of promoting Christian unity.

Founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor was a true apostle of Christian Unity and charity, an ardent Franciscan, missionary of At-One-Ment and leader. His life purpose and legacy was work for the realization of Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper: "That all may be one: as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17:21)

This legacy of At-One-Ment, and the example of his life and work have drawn others into the world to be bridge builders, peace makers and reconcilers. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York formally opened the Cause for Canonization of Father Paul on September 22, 2015 in New York City. Father Paul was an indefatigable servant of God whose work was to spread the Kingdom of God on earth. He had the heart of a Franciscan and the missionary zeal of St. Paul, as evidenced by the many publications, sermons and letters he left behind.

The prayer service each year is the product of collaboration among the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican. This year it has a special additional theme of reconciliation, because this year we observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation begun by Martin Luther.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

It probably seems a little alarming already to be speaking about Lent, but here goes. This year our parish is going to participate in a Lenten program introduced several years ago by the five downtown pastors of parishes in Charlotte, NC. It is a DVD-based Bible study for small groups, with meetings each week addressing the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed at each following Sunday of Lent. One of the pastors gives a reflection, and then the group discusses the Scriptures.

We participated in this program the last two years at Saint Mary, and I am convinced not only of the power of the Word of God, but the power of sharing faith in small groups. I saw so much spiritual growth in people who participated; last year we hosted about 300 small faith groups. Your faith grows many times faster when you enter into a relationship of sharing it, even if only for an hour a week for five weeks. Community is formed and strengthened, but so is our awareness of our faith and the faith we see in others.

We form what are called "affinity" groups, or groups of people (5-8, usually) who are already friends, or somehow related. It might be people already associated by serving in the same ministry or belonging to the same group, it might be a group of people who work together or in the same neighborhood. It also might be an open group which is started by someone who is willing to lead and make new friends. Watch the bulletin next week for more information about this remarkable opportunity. Leaders will sign up first, group members will follow.

God bless you.

Fr. Don Rooney

 
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