Dear Notre Dame Family:
It has been such a joy meeting so many of you over the past few weeks. I arrived to Notre Dame on July 1st and look forward to being installed as Pastor by Bishop Hicks on August 7th at the 5:00pm Mass. I feel truly blessed to have been asked by Bishop Hicks to serve and shepherd this great community!
As I write this letter, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are battling in the NBA Finals. I think back to last year's NBA Finals and remember that it took place before “virtual fans” on video screens. It is so great to see the Finals this year be played in an arena with 20,000 screaming people! Arenas and stadiums filled to capacity point to recovery from the Covid crisis.
Jammed-packed arenas, however, are not enough for us to recover from Covid. We must return to God with full force; we must place God as priority—both as individuals and as a community; we must return back to the Mass and sacraments.
I know there are still many from the Notre Dame family that still have not returned from last year. I want to encourage you to come back! Come back to your home!
In the last few months, I have talked with countless people who have returned back to the Mass and sacraments after being away due to Covid. I always communicate to them the reality that they are getting plugged back into receiving God’s help; they are getting plugged back into communion with God—something like getting plugged into a light socket. That is what the sacraments do, they give us God’s power and strength, power and strength that we don’t possess on our own. Who today doesn’t need more power and strength as we go through life?
Our secular culture continues to push God to the side: busy schedules, sports, etc. This only makes a return back to Mass all the more difficult. Together in community are we able to resist this push from society and place God back as priority in our lives. In times of trial we need to be firm in faith and stay faithful to what matters. The Sacraments matter. The Mass Matters. Living and growing together as a community matter. God Matters.
I believe we are entering a new and exciting time at Notre Dame! I’m excited to lead this community deeper in the heart of Christ. Together we will place Jesus at the center of our lives, grow as disciples, and help others who are in need.
I look forward to meeting you when you return home!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Mark Bernhard