Closing Mass caps year of celebrating Diocese’s 40th Anniversary


YUCAIPA—“Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40.”

 Bishop Barnes began his homily with a playful rhyme at the Closing Mass to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Diocese, held Nov. 3 at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in Yucaipa.

 The celebration came nearly 40 years to the day after founding Bishop Phillip Straling’s Ordination signaled the official beginning of the Diocese of San Bernardino. That event took place at Riverside’s Raincross Square on November 6, 1978. 

 “40 years ago people of faith embraced a new adventure, a beginning, to make a local Church,” Bishop Barnes proclaimed.

 The 40th Anniversary Mass, attended by more than 1,200 people had all the hallmarks of a Diocesan Mass, showcasing cultural diversity, liturgical creativity and an emphasis on the four core values of the Diocese—Faith Sharing, Collaboration, Hospitality and Reconciliation—as well as the Diocesan Vision. “We, the Church of San Bernardino, are a community of believers in Jesus the Christ, called to impact family, neighborhood and society with the gospel so that people’s lives are filled with hope.”

 The symbol of the Diocese’s 40th Anniversary observance has been the lantern, and it was incorporated into the Mass. In the opening procession, six young adults brought forth a lantern representing each of the six vicariates of the Diocese. The lanterns were placed around the framed Papal Bull that was displayed in the sanctuary.

 The Mass did not ignore the clergy sexual abuse crisis that the Church finds itself again grappling with. Bishop Barnes addressed it in his homily as did the prayers in an extended penitential rite at the beginning of Mass. “Deliver us from the silence that gives consent to abuse; deliver us from apathy and hardness of heart; deliver us from the fear of speaking the truth,” the prayers read.

 Prior to 1978, San Bernardino and Riverside counties were part of the Diocese of San Diego. Our “Mother Diocese” was represented at the Mass by Bishop Robert McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan who concelebrated with Bishop Barnes and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Rutilio del Riego. In brief remarks near the close of the Mass, Bishop McElroy joked that witnessing all of the vitality and spirit of the people here made him think about lobbying the Vatican to reincorporate our two counties into his diocese.

 “You’ve grown so large in God’s grace,” Bishop McElroy said of the Diocese of San Bernardino. “You’ve established your own identity.”

 Also concelebrating was Monsignor Tom Wallace, the first priest ever to be ordained for the Diocese of San Bernardino.

 Bishop Straling, who is retired and living in Reno, was unable to attend the Mass but had pre-recorded a message to the faithful of the Diocese. 

 “For those of us who were involved in the beginning of the Diocese, we never thought we’d see this day of 40 years,” Bishop Straling said in his message, which was played at the close of the Mass. “We ask God’s Holy Spirit to be upon us as we continue to forge forward into tomorrow.”

 Bishop Straling’s sister, Fran Nuelle, was in attendance and she was acknowledged and given a gift by Bishop Barnes.

 A reception in the church courtyard and parish hall followed the Mass with food and refreshments provided by several cultural communities in the Diocese.