The History of St. Bernadette Parish
The Community of St. Bernadette had its beginning when Holy Trinity Parish was divided into five separate areas during the booming growth of Anne Arundel County in the late 1960's (by 1969 it was the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Baltimore). The central administration came from Holy Trinity with places for worship located in each area. We were designated as Area E with Fr. Aloysius Allen as our first pastor. The community celebrated its first liturgy in the Martin Spalding High School auditorium on February 23, 1969. After a brief period of leadership transition, Fr. Edwin Mylin became our second pastor.
Fr. Mylin celebrates a baptism in Archbishop Spalding's Chapel, prior to the construction of our current worship space, 1972
From the beginning, Fr. Mylin developed in us a strong sense of community, and under his guidance we became a parish in 1972. A poll was taken, names were compiled and we elected to name our parish after St. Bernadette of Lourdes. From the beginning, there was a generally held feeling that the Martin Spalding auditorium was not really conducive to good liturgy. This was true from both the aspects of function and aesthetics. It seemed that our Masses were up high on a stage with the community as an audience. The problems with our worship area led to much discussion about the possibility of erecting our own building. A parcel of land was purchased from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In August 1974, the rectory building was completed, and Fr. Mylin moved in. It was adjacent to the site of a possible future structure.
Into this milieu, in July of 1976, Fr. Joseph Connolly arrived as our pastor. Acting in the spirit of lay participation that emanated from Vatican II, he led us into a planned program of discernment. Through this process, the community assumed the decision making that determined our future. Everyone was given a chance to voice an opinion. We then, collectively, made all the major decisions as to where, when and what would be done. It may come as a surprise to people today to know that during this process "no church building" was a viable option. The final consensus was to build a modest building and avoid a huge paralyzing debt. In this way, all of the program needs of our parish could be fulfilled and we would be free to reach out to the greater community.
Groundbreaking took place on April 29, 1979. The architect used a pre-engineered steel building in a design that incorporated worship space, gallery, offices, library and hall. Brother Mel Myers, a Marianist, from a liturgical design group, was commissioned to create a complete, unified worship area. The success of his efforts can be seen today in the frescoes, steel statues, furniture and stained glass windows.
After serving as our pastor for nearly 16 years, in 1992 Fr. Joe Connolly retired. That same year, and Fr. Nick Cieri became our pastor, serving the parish for fifteen years.
Growing in Faith
In 2008, St. Bernadette Parish welcomed one of the Archdiocese's first female Pastoral Life Directors,
Ms. Ann McDonald. While Ann was assisting the parish with their administrative and pastoral needs, diocesan priest Fr. Michael Murphy and Resurrectionist priest Fr. James Donohue, CR continued to provide the parish with their sacramental needs.
Fr. Mike served as the "assigned priest" for St. Bernadette Parish, alongside serving as the chaplain for Mount St. Joseph High School and working with the My Brother's Keeper center in the Irvington neighborhood of Baltimore. In 2016, he was named Pastor of the St. Joseph Monastery parish in Irvington, and was able to devote his full attention to the neighborhood of his youth, though he was sorely missed in Severn.
Fr. Jim served the sacramental need of the parish for nearly 25 years, until June of 2019, when he ended his ministry at St. Bernadette Parish to pursue formation work with the seminarians of his Resurrectionist Order in Tanzania.
Following Ann McDonald's retirement in 2012, the parish welcomed Deacon Fred Passauer, our first permanent deacon and new parish administrator.
In 2016, along with the continued sacramental support of Fr. Jim Donohue, the parish welcomed our very own "parish friar" in Fr. John Schulmeister, OFM. Fr. John and his Doberman companion, Keeper, found a welcoming home among the parishioners of St. Bernadette. Father John replaced Father Mike Murphy as the Assigned Priest on Father Mike's being designated as the pastor of Saint Joseph Monastery.
In August of 2019, St. Bernadette Parish was delighted by the news that Fr. Patrick Carrion was our newly assigned pastor.
Fr. Patrick has served in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for more than 37 years. He is the first assigned priest pastor to
St. Bernadette's since 2007.
Today we are busy with the task of fulfilling the vision of those who have gone before. God's grace has been shed abundantly on St. Bernadette Parish through the generous talent and love of our people, both clerical and lay. We look forward to many more fruitful years of service!