Looking back…and forward


The Diocese will celebrate its 40th Anniversary this year with a nod to the past and an eye on the future

 While it remains the second youngest in California, the Diocese of San Bernardino reaches a significant milestone in 2018 with the celebration of its 40th Anniversary.

 Bishop Gerald Barnes made the 40th Anniversary of the Diocese a point of emphasis at the Closing Mass for his own 25th Episcopal Anniversary on Dec. 20. At the close of the liturgy, he invited a representative from every parish to come forward and receive a lantern, which will be the symbol of the 40th Anniversary celebration.

 “It represents our calling from God to carry within us the light of Christ and to share that light, that truth, with whomever we may encounter,” Bishop Barnes said in a message announcing the 40th Anniversary (read the full message on page two).

 The theme of the 40th Anniversary year is “Filling Lives with Hope,” reflecting the final line from the Diocesan Impact Statement.

 Parishes were invited to take their 40th Anniversary lantern back to the church and display it in a prominent way, similar to the Mercy crosses that each parish designed in 2015 for the Year of Mercy.

 The 40th Anniversary Year will feature many opportunities to revisit the history of the Diocese. A commemorative Diocesan Directory will be produced, and a special issue of the BYTE will be published in September. A series of video interviews with those who played key ministry roles in the early days of the Diocese will be released through the digital media of the Diocese. Father Erik Esparza, JCL, Associate Director of Priest Personnel for the Diocese, taped a one-hour interview with Bishop  Phillip Straling, founding Bishop of the Diocese, in October. Excerpts from that interview will be released on Diocesan social media throughout the year.

 A 40th Anniversary web site with historical resources, prayers and videos will be launched in February.

 In addition, regularly scheduled Diocesan Masses, days of prayer and events such as the upcoming Combined Vicariate meetings and the Bishop’s Dinner will incorporate the 40th Anniversary observance.

 The central Diocesan event to commemorate the 40th Anniversary will be a Mass on November 3 at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church in Yucaipa. The Diocese of San Bernardino became official when Bishop Straling was ordained on November 6, 1978.

 While a great majority of Catholics now living in San Bernardino and Riverside counties were not present for the birth of the Diocese in 1978, learning about the people, places and important events in Diocesan history will be an exercise in strengthening a shared identity moving forward, say both Bishop Barnes and Bishop Straling.

 “Keeping that connection [to our past] is a joy,” Bishop Straling told Fr. Esparza during their October interview. “When we lose that connection, we lose part of our very being.”

 Bishop Barnes says he would like to have the 40th Anniversary be an occasion for the Catholic communities of the Diocese to reflect on the strengths, challenges and needs that are present today in the local Church. Documenting this process could be a great help to present and futures leaders in the Diocese, including his successor, Bishop Barnes added.