History of St. Bernardine Church

St. Bernardine, established in 1862, is the founding parish of the Catholic community of San Bernardino. Through the years it has been distinguished in the city by its architectural presence as well as by the passionate faith of its members. The only parish in San Bernardino for some 60 years, the church has many families with ancestors who were its pioneers. Before the establishment of the Diocese of San Bernardino, the Parish belonged variously to the Diocese of Monterey, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Through these years, St. Bernardine Parish was pivotal to Catholic life in the area, carrying memories of outstanding generations of members and pastors, including Msgrs. Daniel Ryan and John J. Bradley. Stories are told of the Civil War days, of the fires that destroyed two earlier churches and the glory of building the present church in 1910. During the past decade the church has received seismic retrofitting, and interior and exterior restoration occasioned by earthquake damage that caused the removal of the bell tower in the 1950's.

Initiating Catholic education in the city, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary opened St. Catherine School, which grew into the parochial elementary and high schools. Although both closed in the 1970's, the parish still welcomes high school class reunions. On the school site now stands St. Bernardine Plaza.

Today's parish includes a variety of ethnic, cultural and language backgrounds, reflecting the reality of a changing society. Since 1995 liturgical celebrations and religious education have been offered in both English and Spanish languages. In 1993 a pastoral coordinator replaced the priest Pastor. The parish has developed a variety of ministries to serve the needs of the immigrant community, the elderly, children and youth. Emphasis has been placed on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Children and Youth, and continued religious education programs for all age levels including youth formation and leadership.

Facing increasingly difficult economic times, and in response to many persons' needs, as well as the needs of parish, St. Bernardine Parish has established a Social Concerns Committee. It has also begun a process of growing in Stewardship, inviting everyone to share their God-given gifts in solidarity and love. Faithful to its legacy and its mission, St. Bernardine Catholic community continues to impact family, neighborhood and society with the Gospel and welcome all who come so that lives are filled with hope.