Music teacher: A young Bernard ‘always laughing’

| May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
Bernard Hebda, left, with classmate Richard Glumac at their confirmation. Submitted photo

Bernard Hebda, left, with classmate Richard Glumac at their confirmation. Submitted photo

Sister Maureen O’Brien admits that when she learned of Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s appointment to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, she thought, “Oh, no. Poor Bernie.”

“On one level, I’m just so proud of him and grateful for the gifts he brings to the Church,” said Sister Maureen, 72, a Sister of Charity. “And on a personal level, I just feel sad that he’s been uprooted.”

She knows his roots well. She taught music to a young Bernard Hebda at Resurrection School in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood when he was in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. They’ve kept in touch through the years. She recalls when he told her that all he ever wanted to be was a parish priest.

“And I remember saying to him, ‘But Bernie, when you have the gifts that God has given you, maybe that’s not in the cards.’ But I really believe that he has brought those qualities of pastoral leadership to everything he’s ever done. He’s been a shepherd,” Sister Maureen said. “When I hear Pope Francis say, ‘A leader needs to be smelly like the sheep,’ that’s kind of Bernie. He’s among the people; he’s not above the people. And he’s always been that way.”

“Bernie,” Sister Maureen said, came from a simple, hardworking and faith-filled family. His parents were the type of people you wanted to be your best friends. As a student, he was bright and positive; he never complained. And he was always laughing.

“The only time I had to correct him in class was for laughing,” she said, recalling how a friend who sat behind him would whisper things in his ear to make him laugh. “And the more I corrected him, the more he laughed.”

Among the greatest gifts she believes Archbishop Hebda will share with the archdiocese are his holiness and humility. His love for people and for the Church undoubtedly came from his family, she noted. But she also likes to think his early teachers, the Sisters of Charity, influenced him as well.

“Elizabeth Seton taught us — her last words were, ‘Be children of the Church.’ And when I think of Bernie, I think of someone who is a man of the Church.

“We really do miss him in Pittsburgh,” she added.

Because of her responsibilities as director of campus ministry at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Sister Maureen wasn’t able to attend the installation Mass.

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Category: Welcome Archbishop Hebda