By Most Reverend Gerald Barnes
This year our Diocese celebrates 40 years of existence. God has blessed our local Church in so many ways over these four decades. Let us give Him thanks and praise!
Along with these blessings we have seen great change and challenge during our 40 years. The number ‘40’ holds great significance in the Sacred Scriptures. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land; the Prophet Elijah fasted for 40 days at Mount Horeb; and the Lord Jesus prayed, fasted and endured temptation in the desert for 40 days. So we see that 40 often symbolizes testing and trial. Surely, we have had our share of this as we sought to establish our own identity in Southern California, a place rich in Catholic heritage and culture. We have faced the challenges of our region, of the greater society in which we live and, yes, in our own actions of ministry leadership at times.
The one constant in this has been… you, the people of the Diocese of San Bernardino, so full of faith and willing to set your shoulders to the wheel of ministry in order that God’s Kingdom is proclaimed all over these lands. I have said many times that our Diocese may not be materially rich, but it possesses the greatest of wealth in its people. I have been inspired to work with so many great men and women of faith during my 25 years in the Diocese and I am filled with gratitude to God for what we have been able to do together. And I know that there are many holy men and women who laid the groundwork for us in the early years of the Diocese and even before that.
Indeed, this 40th Anniversary year will be a time for us to reconnect with our past. Knowing our history, including important events and those who came before us in ministry, helps us to understand who we are today and where we are headed. I encourage you this year to take opportunities at your parish and through the Diocese to learn more about the incredible 40-year journey that has taken place in the Church of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. There are so many inspiring stories of faith to enrich and enlighten us.
In that spirit we have chosen the lantern as the symbol of our 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. It calls us to keep the light before us as we go forth to where God is calling us. Each of the 92 parishes in the Diocese has received a commemorative lantern that will be displayed prominently so that we might continue to reflect on this special year.
Let us offer our prayers of gratitude to God for his many blessings over these 40 years of our Diocese. And let us continue to seek the protection and intercession of St. Bernardine of Siena and Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, patrons of the Diocese of San Bernardino.