The mission of St. Bernardine Catholic Church
is to Know and Love GOD and Proclaim the good news of JESUS CHRIST through the example of a community expressing Love and Service.
WHAT WE DO
There are a variety of ministries and organizations at the church, ranging from Bible Study to Choir, Food Pantry to Softball Team. Volunteers minister in the areas of Religious Education, Parish Organizations, Activities & Concerns, and Liturgy & Worship. hese ministries are coordinated by the Pastor, the Pastoral Staff, and the Pastoral Council. Ministries that particularly serve the wider neighborhood include Narcotics Anonymous, Karate, and an Emergency Food Pantry. We have also united with other churches in the area to establish the "40 West Outreach and Referral Center,” which helps individuals from throughout the community.
St. Bernardine’s began as a parish long before much of the existing housing in our neighborhood was built, and most that existed was brand new. The neighborhood at that time was heavily Catholic. In the mid-1920s, Catholics living between St. William of York and St. Edward’s were pressing for a parish of their own. Ground for the church building was broken in June of 1928, and the church was completed on year later. The school was opened in September of 1928. Mr. & Mrs. James Keelty, prominent builders in Baltimore City, erected the buildings and donated the Church building to the Archbishop of Baltimore. It was a gift in memory of their daughter, Nora Bernardine Keelty, who died in 1922 at the age of six. Our church was named for her baptismal Saint, St. Bernardine.
The artist designing the beautiful stained-glass windows used her picture for the little child seated on the lap of Jesus, in the second window from the back on the Mt. Holly Street side; and also the two angel windows in the former baptistry. St. Bernardine himself is depicted in the painting above the former main altar, wearing a brown Franciscan robe (actually, his robe was gray, not brown at the time), standing on a tree stump, no doubt, proclaiming the “Good News,” and holding the sunburst logo of the Holy Name of Jesus, which he designed. Providentially, the parishioners’ choice for the name of the new parish was “Holy Name.” Since St. Bernardine is called “The Apostle of the Holy Name,” it seems that they got their wish! Father John Smith, the first pastor, served from 1928 until his death in 1944. The next pastor, Father Louis Vaeth, later named a Monsignor, served until his retirement in 1968. The parish grew large and strong over those first 40 years, and became one of Baltimore’s largest Catholic parishes, legendary for having produced many vocations, and for its support of the Propagation of the Faith.
The 1960s in our country, and indeed our world, were a turbulent time of change. St. Bernardine’s did not escape the impact, especially the impact due to the blockbusting that occurred in Edmondson Village. This brought a change in the neighborhood from Catholic to non-Catholic residents of Edmondson Village, from predominantly white to predominantly African American neighbors. The parish dwindled and declined in membership, but the clergy and the diminishing membership went to work, reached out, and made attempts to stabilize the church and community. In 1968, Father James Cronin was appointed Pastor, and he worked hard to stabilize and encourage growth. Health problems however, led to Father Cronin’s being replaced in 1970 by Father Theodore Rowan. In June 1975, Fr. Edward M. Miller, first came to St. Bernardine Church as part of a ministry team with Fr. Maurice Blackwell. Upon Fr. Blackwell’s departure in 1980, Fr. Miller became Pastor and was later named Monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Msgr. Miller served as pastor until his sudden death on December 15, 2013. Msgr. Richard J. Bozzelli became pastor on July 1, 2014.