Leadership and staff from all 92 parishes in the Diocese of San Bernardino came together at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church in Yucaipa on Feb. 11 for the annual Combined Vicariate Meeting.
In recognition of the current Extraordinary Jubilee Year, it was a day of reflection on Mercy and how it can be lived each day in all aspects of parish ministry.
“[God’s mercy] is to enter into the chaos of other people’s problems and to love and heal them,” Bishop Gerald Barnes said during a 45-minute talk (read an excerpt of Bishop Barnes’ remarks on page 2).
Under the theme “Revealing the Merciful Face of the Church,” Church workers were asked to look at how they show mercy to the many people who come to parishes with problems and challenges
“People come to our parishes when they are distraught...when they are in need,” Bishop Barnes said. “What do they find?”
Bishop Barnes stressed the need for parish employees to model mercy by improving “customer service” skills, relating his own childhood experience of working in a family-owned grocery store.
“We needed people to continue to come to that grocery store,” he said. “So my Dad would always say, ‘the customer is always right. Even when the customer is wrong, he’s right.’ ”
Following his talk, Bishop Barnes responded to a number of questions submitted by attendees addressing such topics as gossip, collaboration between lay and ordained ministers of the church, accountability of church leaders and requirements of parents and godparents for baptism of a child.
Video testimonials were shown throughout the day in which both church ministers and randomly selected people in need responded to questions about experiencing and needing the mercy of God.
The day concluded with an afternoon Mass. The six vicariates of the Diocese processed into St. Francis Cabrini Church holding identifying placards, carrying a banner that illustrated one of the Corporal Works of Mercy and also carrying the Mercy Cross of the pilgrimage site parish of that vicariate.
This year marked the second time that the Combined Vicariate meeting convened all of the parishes in the Diocese. Normally two different meetings are held at the Diocesan Pastoral Center – one for the parishes of Riverside County, and one for the parishes of San Bernardino County. The combined format was previously used in 2013 for the Year of Faith.