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The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has launched Beacons of Light, a comprehensive process of pastoral planning, to study every aspect of the archdiocese and parishes to determine how to best array our resources – human, physical and financial – to spread the Gospel far and wide.
St. Bernard Parish is now part of a family of six parishes under one Pastor, along with Assumption, Mother of Christ, St. Bartholomew,
St. Clare, and St. Vivian.
These 6 parishes are to come together to form one parish within the next 5 years
Pastor and Parochial Vicars
Pastor Fr. Andrew Umberg
I want to tell you a little about myself.
To make this quick I will use bullet points,
then I’ll say a few other things:
- Born March 18, 1963, Cincinnati
- Third of seven children (5 boys, 2 girls)
- Both parents Catholic
- Jane Hoop School: Kindergarten, First Grade
- Assumption: Second Grade (Sister Edith)
- St. James, White Oak: (3rd-8th)
- LaSalle: (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior)
- Colerain: (Senior Year---not kicked out of LaSalle!)
- C.T.C.:(one year in chef program, 1981-1982)
- Pontifical College Josephinum: (1982-1986)
- Mount St. Mary’s Seminary:(1986-1991)
- Ordained June 1, 1991
- St. Dominic Parish: (Vicar, 1991-1994)
- Pontifical College Josephinum: (Dean of Students, 1994-1999)
- Studies: Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1999-2001---License in Dogmatic Theology
- Mount St. Mary’s Seminary: (Dean of Students, Lecturer, Systematic Theology, 2001-2005)
- St. Angela Merici Parish, Brown County: (Pastoral Administrator, 2004-2005)
- St. William Parish: Pastor (2005-2015)
- St. Joseph Parish, North Bend: Pastor
As you see, I am a Catholic boy from a big family, who tried to avoid a call to the priesthood by being a chef, but then gave in. This August it will be 40 years since I entered the seminary at age 19. On June 1st 2022, I celebrated my 31st anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. It is great to be here at this time in my life!
Fr. Robert Haft, Parochial Vicar
Greetings in the name of the Lord:
I am Father Ronald Haft, one of your Parochial Vicars. I would like to share a short biography about myself.
I was born in 1966, and raised in Colerain Township. Our family consisted of Dad (Dick), Mom (Ruth), and older brothers Rick and Ray. Our family is Catholic, but fell away from the faith during my childhood. I attended Ann Weigel Elementary, White Oak Junior High and Colerain High School, graduating in 1985.
I completed the Cincinnati Technical College Culinary Arts Program in 1987. I worked at the North Bend Road McDonald’s from 1984 to 1986, and Evergreen Retirement Community from 1986-1988. I then worked at St. Clare Retirement Community from 1988 to 1991. During this time at St. Clare, I returned to Cincinnati Technical College and completed the Dietetic Technician Program in the spring of 1991. I also worked at St. Francis - St. George Hospital for 8 months in 1991. After successfully completing the American Dietetics Association national exam, I began working at Lebanon Correctional Institution in October 1991 as a Dietetic Technician, Registered.
In March of 1993, I returned to the practice of the Catholic Faith, receiving First Communion September, 1993 and Confirmation, March of 1994. I purchased my own home in February,1997. Dad died in 1998. In August 2001, I sold my home and entered Mt. St Mary’s Seminary of the West. I was ordained to the Priesthood May 19th, 2007, and received a Master of Divinity degree.
I was Parochial Vicar at St. Charles Borromeo in Kettering, 2007 to 2010. I was Pastor of St. Peter in Chains in Hamilton, 2010 to 2013. I was Administrator of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Covington, Ohio, and Parochial Vicar to Immaculate Conception, Bradford, St. Denis Versailles, and Holy Family, French Town, 2013 to 2017. I was Pastor of St. Antoninus Church, Green Township 2017 to 2022. I have been a chaplain at Dayton Correctional Institution. I am currently the “Courage” and “Encourage” Chaplain for the Cincinnati area. I am also trained in “Integrity Restored”.
My brother Rick died in 2015, and is survived by his children, Sarah, Ricky, Becca and grandchildren, Searra, Erika, Alaina, and Marissa. Mom died in 2018. My brother Ray lives in Dry Ridge, KY, on Williamstown Lake.
I am excited to be with you as we all embrace Beacons of Light under the leadership of our Pastor Father Umberg.
Fr. George Jacquemin, Parochial Vicar
(excerpts from The Catholic Telegraph, Nov 2022)
What brings us joy varies from person to person. Father George Jacquemin finds joy in a hobby that connects him to his roots and God’s creation: beekeeping.
Raised on the family farm in Fairfield, Father Jacquemin often played with beekeeping equipment stored for his father’s agricultural studies at Ohio State University. “It was something fun to do on rainy days,” he said.
It wasn’t until many years later, when Father Jacquemin became pastor at St. Bernard Parish in Winton Place (now Spring Grove Village), that his interest in beekeeping really took hold. Deacon intern Tom Stricker was involved in beekeeping, which intrigued Father Jacquemin. “Beekeeping has been a great hobby for me,” he said. “When you’re working with bees, you can’t be distracted by anything else that’s going on in the world or at the parish. You can just leave everything behind. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it by getting stung.”
Much of the joy he experiences is “being drawn back to the family farm and staying in touch with my roots,” especially since one of his brothers still works the farm, and another is a fellow beekeeper.
Father Jacquemin finds great joy in the lessons to be learned from bees, both personally and spiritually. “There are many ways to pray, many ways to deepen your relationship with God,” Father Jacquemin said. “Sometimes I feel closest to God when I’m in the midst of nature, whether it’s a snow storm, the sunrise or sunset, a mountain or the bees. They help me stay in tune with God’s presence around me and that’s a deep part of my spirituality.”
Ordained in 1972, Father Jacquemin has served at St. Clare Parish in College Hill since 1998, most of that time as pastor and now as parochial vicar. The fruits of the bees’ (and Father Jacquemin’s ) labors also bring joy to others through the sale of honey and beeswax gift items, including Christmas ornaments, Nativity sets and candles. He typically makes his wares available one weekend in the fall at St. Clare. “It’s been a real blessing for me to be at St. Clare. People enjoy the honey, and it gives me joy to be able to share it and draw closer to the community. [They] seem to enjoy hearing about the bees and receiving my farm reports.”
Father Bob Thesing, SJ
Fr. Bob Thesing, S.J. was ordained in 1976. As a priest he has pastored four different parishes in Cincinnati and Chicago, has worked as a retreat director at the Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio, and has supervised young Jesuits in the Detroit Novitiate and at Loyola University Chicago.
Father Paul Mackey, SJ
Since August of 2017, Fr. Macke has been the Jesuit Mission Coordinator at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford, Ohio. He works on Conference Retreats, privately directed retreats, and coordinates the Spiritual Direction Internship to train spiritual directors. From 2011 until 2017 he was Executive Director of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.
Previously, Father Macke had served as the Secretary for Pastoral Ministries and Jesuit Life for the Jesuit Conference of the United States in Washington, DC for six years. Prior to joining the Conference, Macke worked in Alaska for 17 years, devoting eight years to the Holy Spirit Center in Anchorage, Alaska, where he served as its executive director for six years.
Father Macke entered the Society of Jesus in 1963, earning a BA in classics and a Master of Divinity, both from Loyola University of Chicago. After his ordination in 1973, Macke went on to receive a MA in counseling psychology from Loyola, and a D. Min. in pastoral psychotherapy from the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.
Fr. Macke has also served in Jesuit formation as the vocation director for the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus from 1989 until 1993.
Sr. Margie Niemer, OSF
Sister Margie Niemer is the Pastoral Administrator of St. Bernard’s. She started in this role in August of 2018. She is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Oldenburg.
A look at our history
A community of faith and worship was planted in Winton Place on May 18, 1919. The first pastor, Fr. Martin Varley (1919-1924) was Christ-centered and enthusiastic. The young priest and parishioners set a spiritual tone that has lasted a century: radiating Christ’s love.
Lay leadership and collaboration took hold immediately, first in the process of building the church (dedicated in July, 1920) and then groundbreaking and construction of the school (April, 1925). Lay organizations led by men (The Holy Name Society) and women (The Madonna Society and PTA) helped knit a strong community and were responsible for essential fundraising.
Fr. Henry Westerman (1924-1939) oversaw the building of the school and its student body. He was fortunate to have the Franciscan Sisters of Oldenburg as dedicated and gifted teachers. As the school expanded, the Annex was built for grades one to four. The school was closed in 1972 as times and demographics changed.
The second half century continued to develop along the lines of spirituality, community, collaboration, lay leadership and works of social justice and charity.
Parish life after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) brought new challenges and sometimes wrenching changes. The arrival of the charismatic community of New Jerusalem led by Fr. Richard Rohr brought an influx of mostly young people. Having worshiped with St. Bernard, New Jerusalem’s departure to their own worship space in the former school basement (Portiuncula) created a rupture . During that time, traditional choirs and music yielded to music groups led by guitarists. It was a time of loss as well as gain as more traditional parishioners left in reaction to the changes.
In the 1970's and 80's, Fr. George Jacquemin’s youthful openness fostered a communal worship style, an active Parish Council and a closer relationship to our sister parish Mother of Christ (Winton Terrace). Community building grew through annual festivals, the Turtle Derby and parish picnic.
In his long pastorate (1984-2012), Fr. Jim Shappelle became a beloved spiritual leader with a love of the scriptures and his willingness to be of service to all in need. In addition to his pastorate, he served as chaplain to several schools and was on call to local cemeteries and hospitals.
We entered the 1990’s having survived some pretty tumultuous times, with the knowledge that we were stronger because of them. The very core of our identity as a small, faith-filled community threatened to be the cause of our demise. Had it not been for our unique association with New Jerusalem and Mother of Christ, we may not have survived those times.
We were fortunate during those years to receive the gifts of some some special and talented priests: Fr. Mike Paraniuk who was a gifted preacher and a definite non-traditional priest, and several Jesuits from the nearby St. Peter Claver community. In short, we had an unusually well-rounded liturgical life, always enhanced by our very gifted musicians.
2000 to date - the tumultuous new century. Being small, our parish has faced various merger scenarios: different visions for the future have tested its unity, precipitated departures, and left wounds in need of healing. In 2012, St. Bernard embarked on a new future blessed by the Jesuit pastorate of Fr. Robert Thesing, S.J. and the dedication of our pastoral associate, Bob Ivory. During this period, we once again relied on lay leadership to take us to the next step. After a 3-year process, we were one of only a few parishes to turn to a Pastoral Administrator, Sr. Margie Niemer, OSF, who joined us in 2018. Fortunately, we have been blessed to have the ongoing talents of Fr. Bob and Fr. Joe Folzenlogen, S.J., as sacramental ministers.
Of course, nothing could have prepared us for COVID19. What does a small, faith-filled community do in the absence of being surrounded by community!
Celebrating 100 Years
Beginning in May of 2019, we began a year-long celebration of our 100th Anniversary. Our Anniversary events included:
May devotions in our first-ever living rosary followed by a breakfast
Prayer in front of church, followed by an ice cream social
Mass led by the Archbishiop concelebrated by several of our past and present priests and attended by parishioners old and new, followed by a formal luncheon at the local Harmony Lodge
Concert and sing-a-long (cancelled by the pandemic)
Closing Mass followed by breakfast in our new Shappelle Center