Father Bernardine is 100

Love, Sue

The timing was crucial if I was indeed going to visit Father Bernardine Hahn down in St. Louis, Missouri, for his 100th birthday on December 13th, 2015.  And I indeed was going to do so, give or take a few days on either end , as possible, depending on choir practices, my weekend Mass schedule at St. Victoria, my life with the Gazette, and weather predictions were also a priority.  My calendar would be adjusted as necessary.  It’s a ten-hour drive.

Call it an emergency, if you will.  No matter our age, we can’t count on tomorrow, but at the age of 100 there may be a shorter than average amount of time left for tomorrow.

I took advantage of a good spell of weather, and the good roads, and called my friend Mary Moore to see if she’d like to go with me.  It was dark when I picked her up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, December 7th.

We arrived in St. Louis that evening, found a Drury Inn not too far from the St. Anthony Friary, had supper and a good sleep, then went to see Father Bernardine the next morning.  He came down the hall from his room, walking spryly with his cane.  He looked wonderful, but Fr. B. said that if it wasn’t for Brother Javier, he would have to go to a nursing home. 

We sat together for a while in a private living room and caught up things.  And then, since it was December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we attended Mass with Fr. B. and sat with him in this side chapel near the main altar.

After Mass we walked inside the main church and saw its impressive features.  The priest who said the 11 a.m. Mass that morning was Father Mike Fowler, who has a brother that is a resident of Victoria.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is much recognized and honored by parishioners of St. Anthony.

Then Fr. B. treated us to lunch at the friary, which consisted of a delicious beef stew, a chicken pasta dish, lettuce salad, and an array of cookies for dessert.  Thank you, Fr. B.

We visited at the table until about 2 p.m. or so, were greeted by various other friars also dining, and then Fr. B. showed us his room, where his desk features prominent.  Father remains a reader and a letter writer.

We had planned on getting a good start back to Victoria before the day ended, and we did.  Although Father was tired, he insisted on getting in the car of his friend Brother Javier who kindly led us directly to Interstate #55 north, which was our ticket out of St. Louis. 

When Fr. B. was at my home in Victoria for the first time in 1984, he was just the same as he is today — a gentleman, a scholar, a teacher, mild mannered, a kind and generous priest, a good and saintly man.  I hope to see him again, maybe this spring with Allan.