San Antonio is still mourning the passing of one of its’ finest priests and civic leaders, Father Edward “Eddie” Bernal.
“Father Eddie” as he was affectionately known to everyone, suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away, May 29th at the age of 66.
He attended St. Ann's Catholic School, St. Paul's Catholic School, Holy Cross High School, Jefferson High School, St. Mary's University, and the Oblate School of Theology.
Ordained in 1987, he served as Pastor of St. Matthews, St. John Berchmans, St. Leo’s and St. Benedict’s Catholic Churches. His last 13 years were at St. Benedict’s.
Since 2007, I have been taking his photo at various events throughout San Antonio. In all that time, every time I encountered him, he always had a smile on his face, was funny, jovial and uplifting.
On every encounter I would make sure I mentioned to him that “since you know God personally, please put in a good word for me.” We would laugh as he promised he would certainly do so. The last time I saw him April 21st at a Fiesta event, I started to remind him to put in a good word with God for me, and before I could actually say it, he interjected, “I know, I got you covered,” laughing as he said it. He was that kind of guy.
When I was about to take his photo at those events, he would normally say, “wait, let me fix my collar.” Again we would have a good laugh. He also graciously posed with others at those events. No pretentiousness whatever.
June 2nd I attended the first of two rosaries for Father Eddie at St. Benedict’s. I got there a little late and it took me some time to find a parking spot. Cars were parked up and down the street and it was almost nearly impossible, but I did find a slot two blocks away.
I ran in to take photos and forgot my umbrella. The crowd was overwhelming. The line of mourners to attend the rosary was out into the parking lot and they were pushing to get in with the pending rain. The church was packed.
The crowd was estimated to be over 600 people! You couldn’t move. I made it to the balcony where the various media outlets were stationed. Thankfully I did have my La Prensa pass with me. When I left the Rosary, a gracious woman offered me her umbrella as I tried to make it to my car. Even with the umbrella I still got soaked from the downpour.
June 3rd I attended St. John Berchman’s Rosary for Father Eddie and again it was packed with an estimated 500 plus mourners! People were lining the back of the church. Fortunately there was no rain.
Saturday, June 4th was overwhelming. An estimated 1,700 plus filled the church, the cry room and every possible corner or wall to stand by to participate. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller led the service with about 100 priests. Judges, Commissioners, College Board Members, former City Council Members and even State Senator Jose Menendez attended.
Obviously Father Eddie is truly loved by not only his parishioners, but San Antonio as a whole. He will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, “Father Eddie.”
Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist