In Loving Memory: St. Anne Pastor, Fr. Bernie Pietrczak Rings Church Bells at Midnight After Cubs’ World Series Win

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Members of Barrington’s Saint Anne Catholic Community are grieving today after the sudden passing of Pastor, Father Bernie Pietrzak and this shocking message that arrived via parish email just after 8 last night.

“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the unexpected passing of our beloved pastor, Father Bernie Pietrzak. He passed away November 29th, after a cardiac event. Father Bernie served our Saint Anne community with unwavering dedication, compassion, and a profound commitment to his faith. He touched the lives of many with his inspiring homilies, guidance, and selfless service.”

The sudden loss of Father Bernie’s constant and ever-faithful voice here in Barrington is a blow that is hard to describe. It is especially difficult for the parish as Father Bernie just announced on Tuesday the departure of another beloved leader of the Saint Anne faith community. Father Joji Thanugundla has been appointed to a leadership role at Saint Mary of the Annunciation Parish in West Mundelein, starting January 1, 2024.

Although Father Bernie will no longer be here physically, his unmistakeable voice is embedded in the hearts of those who’ve attended countless worship services he’s led over the years. Baptisms, first communions, reconciliations, confirmations, weddings, funerals… He’s walked beside us during our celebrations and our sorrows. He will be missed, but Father Bernie’s unwavering message of steadfast servant leadership is here to stay as we live out his faithful example. I was thankful for the opportunity to learn more about Father Bernie when I produced the parish welcome video back in 2016. If you’re ever missing Father Bernie, you will find him here…

And, out of all of the stories I ever published since I started 365Barrington back in 2010, Father Bernie was the focus of one of my all time favorites. Remember when the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in over a century? Well, Father Bernie made it an extra special experience here in Barrington when he got up to ring the church bells in the middle of the night.

Here’s a look back at that story I published on November 8th, 2016 including video from the celebratory midnight church bells. Thanks for teaching us to remain faithful through thick, thin and the Big Chicago Cubs Win, Father Bernie. We will miss you.

Saint Anne Pastor Rings Church Bells at Midnight to Celebrate Cubs World Series Championship

What was going through Pastor Bernie Pietrzak’s mind as he rang the Saint Anne church bells at midnight after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series? Let’s just say the spirit moved him when over a century of prayers finally paid off. In a moment of sheer joy, Father Bernie fired up those bells, adding to the symphony of celebratory fireworks heard all over town. Yes, it was a little late at night to be raising a ruckus at the church. But faith has its rewards and, after waiting 108 years for a Cubs Championship, anything goes!

Father Bernie has been praying for the Chicago Cubs for decades. He’s been a Cubs devotee since he was a kid living in the land of Sox fans. “Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, I took a lot of harassment and abuse from Sox fans over my love of the Cubs.”

For Father Bernie, standing up to those Sox fans has always been family affair. “My grandfather and his brothers were Cubs fans, my father was a Cubs fan. I recall so well going to Cubs games with uncles, cousins and my dad. One of the great memories I cherish is going with my dad to the ballpark as he was getting older, especially during that last year of his life when he had cancer. Watching the Cubs together was a very powerful thing.”

post-1200-father-bernie-cubs-world-seriesFather Bernie was rejoicing with his cousin at Wrigley when the Cubs won Game 5. But he was counting on the power of prayer (and perhaps little divine intervention) when Cleveland came from behind to tie up Game 7, sending the players into extra innings with a dramatic rain delay. “I think there were some challenging moments. I didn’t quite understand some of Joe Maddon’s pitching choices. You just felt like we had it won and then all of a sudden, Cleveland tied it up. It was incredible to watch. ”

Despite Cleveland’s rally, Fr. Bernie says he never stopped believing. “When you’re a Cubs fan for as long as I have been you consider their history. This is a different team made up of very young, talented players with incredible veteran leadership and, of course, Joe Maddon, the ‘pastor’ of the Cubs. They have that energy and team spirit where you win together, you lose together and you move forward together. I just knew the Cubs were going to win it.”

My favorite part of Father Bernie’s take is how he draws a connection between faith, hope and the Chicago Cubs. Not only does he refer to Joe Maddon as the team’s “pastor”, he speaks with reverence of the ballpark itself, a beloved gathering place for generations of believers.

“Wrigley is a beautiful, pastoral setting. It’s an incredible baseball park with that cathedral feel, there’s no question about it.” And Father Bernie says that with the game of baseball, and especially with the Chicago Cubs, there’s an underlying message of eternal hope. “The Easter mystery in the Christian faith tradition is always about dying and rising. There’s an element of faith present when you’re just hanging in there with the promise that, in the midst of suffering, we will always rise again.”

By the way, no matter what your religion, you’ll get a kick out of this. Before the World Series win last Wednesday night, Father Bernie sent an email to the families at Saint Anne Parish School requesting everyone join him in this (slightly modified) prayer…

Infant Jesus of Prague Novena Prayer

O Jesus, Who has said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened,” through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.

Lord, this team is legitimately excellent; please help the Cubs win tonight!

O Jesus, Who has said, “All that you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant you,” through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask your Father in your name that my prayer will be granted.

Lord, this team is legitimately excellent; please help the Cubs win tonight!

O Jesus, Who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My word shall not pass away,” through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.

Lord, this team is legitimately excellent; please help the Cubs win tonight!

AMEN and Hallelujah!

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