In loving memory: Fr. Bernardin Schneider, OFM
When word got out that Fr. Bernardin (Bernie) Schneider, OFM, was in danger of death, the friars and sisters next door to where he lived and many friends visited him one after another. He was greatly loved and admired by countless people, and he went through his last hours on earth in the company of many, many fervent prayers. Those prayers came from hearts filled with gratitude for all he had meant to them. Fr. Bernie died on January 8, 2015 at the age of 97.
Bernie was a legend, respected around the world for translating the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into a critical annotated Japanese edition. The impact of the translation in evangelization cannot be measured. Bernie was very instrumental in making the word of God alive and meaningful to the hearts and lives of many Japanese people.
Fr. Bernardin’s wake and funeral took place at St. Anthony Seminary in Tokyo on Jan. 12 and 13. The small church where Bernie had spent so many long hours in prayer was filled to overflowing at his wake. Fr. Michael Yuzawa, his guardian, conducted the liturgy.
There were many friars (almost all of our Japanese members had Bernie as their Scripture professor during theology) and many sisters. In far larger numbers, were lay people. He was one of the original promoters of the Charismatic Renewal and was close to many people through the Holy Spirit seminars he conducted and the prayer groups he animated.
The liturgy began with a description of Bernie’s life, and his last years of suffering after a disastrous fall. After that came a series of scripture readings with a meditation, hymn and prayer for each.
The wake was concluded by offering of flowers. It is a beautiful and very impressive part of the Japanese wake liturgy. People line up and come forward, receive a flower from the undertaker’s staff, bow two-by-two to the deceased in his casket and his large photo in front of it, place their flower on a long table, stem towards the deceased, make a silent prayer, bow again and give place to the next two. All is done very reverently, and slowly. When the first 100 flowers ran out, those on the table were collected and passed to the next 100 people to offer.
On January 24, at the St. Anthony Shrine Chapel in Cincinnati, Fr. Ric Schneider, OFM, his brother and the baby in the Schneider family presided at a memorial Mass for Bernie. “He was a great brother of mine, a wonderful friar and a phenomenal scholar. There were so many areas in which he excelled. He was a man of deep faith and obedience. He was a great guy, a great brother, a wonderful godfather and friar,” said Fr. Ric.
May you rest in the loving arms of the Lord, Fr. Bernie. We miss you.
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