Bernadine resigned from SOH in May of 2002. In these four months since then, she has had more quality time to
visit her sisters, her children, their spouses and her grandchildren.
Bernadine told me that she really enjoys cooking for her family as their
family reunion draws near. She said she also enjoys continuing with
being a spiritual director, like she did at SOH. Helping others find
their path to God is a deep love of her heart. To me, this time away has
given her time to be renewed and to rest, a true sabbatical.
Bernadine will always be a part of all our hearts and the mission
of SOH, no matter how her future unfolds. It has been said many times
about her: “Sanctuary of Hope would never be the place it is today
without Bernadine.” Her knowledge, experience and delight in
construction, from her marriage to Bernie Asher, Mr. A., until now, made
the impossible task of bringing new life to this 100-year-old building a
reality today...not to mention the countless lives that have been
touched by God thru SOH and Bernadine. She gave her 100% commitment to
SOH and its mission of prayer and retreat.
What I believe is key to Bernadine’s passion is knowing in her
heart how much she is loved by Jesus (the one who “tents” with her
on a mountain fastness) and all of us at SOH. Bernadine used to always
say: “If I know I am loved, I can do anything.” All I needed to hear
from her, after talking about certain decisions for SOH, was: “you bet
we can!” These words gave me strength and enthusiasm to go forward as
Bernadine’s love for social justice and order in the house were
very evident. She delighted in seeing all guests welcomed and cared for;
to see human life ennobled by grace and just practices; to see the
beauty in flowers and plants growing at SOH; and to see people of
different faiths and backgrounds all working and praying with each
other. It was Bernadine who really opened up the community to use
inclusive language in prayer and in our writings.
I believe that we worked so hard at bringing the building and
grounds up to speed, that we often neglected the more important element
of community life. This is why we are calling Mondays our “sacred
day.” We are closed to the public in order for the live-ins to have
this kind of time with each other and God. We are also working hard to
develop the community between the live-ins and the associate members
too. This isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile is.
My images of Bernadine are seeing her sitting quietly in the
chapel before morning prayer began; watching her walk out on the trails
and stopping to see the beauty of nature; preciously holding her kitty,
Mercy and petting ole “velvet ears” as she called Sheba; listening
to people she counseled and asking the key questions of myself, our
professional workers, staff and guests. There is a South hill at SOH
that overlooks I-70. We are naming this “Asher Mountain.” It is a
small, but lasting tribute to a friend and a family of sisters who have
done more good that this world will ever know.
Hopefully at the end of each day, we will all be touched by God,
to give each other a good night hug; just like “Mrs. A.”
Con mi amor y mis oraciones, Padre
Dennis, tu hermano y amigo.