Yearlong 175th Anniversary Celebration Underway at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish
Parishioners at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Indiana have been preparing to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the parish for nearly a year. “We initially planned this as a one-day event,” said Dana Mattini, Chairperson of the 175th Anniversary Committee. Mattini said when they were assigned a new pastor, Fr. Richard Owens, OFM Cap., the idea to make the anniversary a yearlong celebration started taking shape. The celebration has become a year of fundraising and service projects around the parish and throughout the community.
St. Bernard Parish dates back to 1847. A growing catholic community in Indiana County resulted in the first St. Bernard Parish building being built and opened in 1847. The structure was simple and small. According to parish history, Benedictine Father Boniface Wimmer—founder of St. Vincent Benedictine Monastery—and Benedictine Father Leander Schnerr—third Archabbot of St. Vincent Archabbey—both served the parish in some capacity during its history. By 1869, the number of parishioners at St. Bernard was more than the seating capacity at the church. A Roman-style brick church building with a 135-foot steeple was completed within a year and the new church was dedicated on Sept. 26, 1871. A new rectory was constructed four years later.
As time moved across the decades, renovations and repairs continued to be made. Despite all the updates, parishioners could not deny the need for a new church. Construction began on the new limestone-encased building in June 1977, and the first Mass was celebrated in the newly named St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church on Nov. 25, 1978. A formal dedication Mass with Bishop William G. Connare was celebrated on April 22, 1979.
Leading up to the 175th anniversary celebration, Mattini said a number of fundraisers were held early so that the committee could focus on service to the parish and to the community. One of the more unusual fundraisers was a trivia night featuring liturgical and catechetical questions. The winning team was awarded a tasty prize, a confection of their choice, created by Deacon Andrew Corriente, the 2020 winner of Season 5 of ‘The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition’ on ABC. Two of Deacon Andrew’s recipes were featured in the Diocese of Greensburg ‘Faith and Food Cookbook,’ published last year.
Aside from fundraising, Mattini said the committee has been actively involved in community outreach as a means of evangelization, especially during the Lenten season. Parishioners have undertaken a project to beautify the parking lot areas, providing a facelift. They have also been concentrating on community outreach during the season of Lent.
In the Church narthex, parishioners are collecting toiletries, no fragrance lotion, individually wrapped peppermint or ginger mints, trial size mouthwash, pens, notepads, journals, moist flushable wipes, lip balm, eye drops, prayer cards for comfort. The items will be placed into Cancer Comfort Project bags. “These bags are designed to provide comfort and care for cancer patients and will be distributed at the Indiana Regional Medical Center after Easter,” Mattini said. For Mother’s Day, older adults will be helping younger parishioners make Mother’s Day cards for their own for their mothers or for those who may be alone. “Our hope is that we can revitalize our own parish by reaching out to the community,” Mattini said. “It’s part of evangelizing, showing that the Catholic church, as a whole, is welcoming to our entire community.”
Mattini said the committee continues to plan for the August 21st anniversary. Bishop Larry Kulick will celebrate Mass at the parish and a reception, for all parishioners will follow.