FIFTY YEARS A PRIEST
Plans were made, invitations printed, food ordered and other details completed for a golden jubilee of ordination celebration for Msgr. Bernard Galic June 14 at St. Aloysius Parish, Yoder. The commemoration was planned four years to the date after his retirement but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The actual date of Msgr. Galic’s priestly ordination is Aug. 30, so there’s hope a gathering still can take place in a timely manner.
“Even if an official celebration never happens, I will observe my golden jubilee by celebrating Mass at home,” said Msgr. Galic recently.
After his 2016 retirement following 46 years of priestly ministry, Msgr. Galic initially celebrated Mass on weekends at St. Aloysius whenever he was needed, and he remains a parishioner there. Lately, however, he has been limited to the celebration of daily Mass at home due to arthritis.
Young “Bernie” grew up in Newport, Pennsylvania, 25 miles west of Harrisburg. He was baptized in St. Francis of Assisi Parish where, prior to being ordained a bishop in 2004, Father Kevin C. Rhoades served as pastor from 1990-95. “To put it in perspective, when I left for the seminary, Bishop Rhoades was just 2 years old,” Msgr. Galic remarked.
His parents, Frank and Ursula, had five sons: Emory, who died in February 2019 near the family homestead; Bernard; Phil, who died in Florida in 2014; Michael, living in Nevada after spending 30 years in Alaska; and Bill, who moved from Alaska to Ossian, Indiana, and is living near Msgr. Galic’s apartment.
“A religious vocation always was in the back of my head as a kid,” said Msgr. Galic, even though the family attended Mass at a military school. He made his first Communion when he was 7 in a newly built church named, perhaps serendipitously, St. Bernard, in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania. It was pastored by the Glenmary Fathers, who were dedicated to establishing a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns.
His priestly vocation was “cemented” in his head, he said, after many years of serving the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. He also had the feeling he wanted to be a doctor but decided to first try the seminary. If it didn’t work out, he figured, he would enroll in medical school.
As a junior in high school, Msgr. Galic started to dream of traveling as a missionary priest and teaching the faith. “Instead, I ended up teaching religion to high school kids in Donaldson.” He studied at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and was ordained a religious order priest on Aug. 30, 1970.
Msgr. Galic’s ministry not only included teaching theology in the minor seminary but also speech and theater. In fact, during the summer of 1970 he earned a master’s degree in the subject from Indiana University. He received his master of divinity degree that same year.
Even though he loved teaching and directing two plays a year for a decade, he said, he felt drawn to the life of a diocesan priest. When the high school in Donaldson closed, he met with Bishop William E. McManus and was incardinated into the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 1980 as a diocesan priest. His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. Michael, Plymouth. From there he was sent to St. Joseph, Fort Wayne, but for just 10 weeks. Due to an illness affecting the pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Avilla, he was named pastor there.
Five years later, Msgr. Galic assumed the position of pastor at Holy Family, South Bend, where he remained for 24 years. During his long tenure, a new church was built, the school was expanded with an up-to-date library and gym, and the parish debt was eliminated. In 2010, the year he was named a monsignor, he was appointed pastor of St. Aloysius, where he served until his retirement.
For 21 of his years in South Bend, Msgr. Galic hosted the TV Mass in South Bend. “It’s a wonderful way of making the local Church visible,” he said. “And people took great pride in seeing their local priests in this ministry.”
Msgr. Galic also served the diocese on the marriage tribunal, as director of vocations for more than 20 years and as an episcopal vicar. But the most important part of his priestly ministry, he said, was the privilege of being close to people during some of the most important times in their lives.
In retirement, Msgr. Galic hopes to be well enough to continue traveling. He has visited Medjugorje for a retreat about 27 times, and another trip was planned for June but has been put on hold. Before he retired, he also had been to Austria three times to personally connect with a pen pal he has had since fourth grade. They still stay in touch.
Among his other interests, he enjoyed gardening, farming and even butchering when he was in the rural area seminary, he said. “Had I not been ordained, I would have enjoyed being a farmer,” he exclaimed. “I admire their great faith and trust in God to provide.” He continues to maintain a “garden” that consists of a couple of planters on the patio.
“What I’ve learned through the years is that happiness follows obedience,” he reflected. “If you do what you’re told by the Church you’re going to be happy. I’ve had plenty of assignments I would not have chosen, but I’ve never been unhappy. That’s true not only in the priesthood, but in every vocation.”
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