The common refrain of many parishioners of St. Bernadette Church is, invariably, “I just love my church.” It’s how they were raised, it’s how church is family to them, it’s how they support this family of faith in good times and in bad. And it’s how, when they see need in the lives of their neighbors, they come forward.
Ask, for example, Pat Davis Botshekan why she does all she does. “I love my Church,” she replies, simply and proudly. Raised in St. Patrick Parish in the 1940s, Pat carries within her a spirit she inherited from her grandparents and parents. Her grandmother and mother were members of the Altar Society. Her grandfather was in the Holy Name Society. Her parents worked Hot Dog Day when she was in school. As she grew up she would drive food to families in need in the parish. “And CSJs taught me for 12 years.”
She joined St. Bernadette in 1985 and has served more than once as the president of the Pastoral Council, chaired the parish Mardi Gras several times, and is presently serving a second term as president of the 240-member Senior Club. She found time to work at Daniel Freeman Hospital for 12 years and today volunteers in the regional bishop’s office.
“Involvement in our parish was always so important,” she says. “My parents just raised me that way, to help my church, my fellow parishioners. They were always there to help and they made sure I was included in the ‘help.’ It is in my DNA and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Father Allan Roberts, pastor, sees the greatest strengths of the Central Los Angeles parish in their liturgies, the people’s “wonderful generosity” and their Christian service ministry, which includes an outstanding grocery program for poor families and sack lunches for those in need.
So many members of the parish are generous, he adds, because many of them know what it is like to have been poor and in need at some time in their lives. Clearly, the longtime pastor feels the spirit of St. Bernadette and the love his people have for their parish.
“It is a well-established community, and a very faithful community,” says Father Roberts. “There is a spirit of generosity, a spirit of volunteerism and pride that this is their parish. They do it all for the love of God and love of the Church.”