Bernardino originally wanted to be a doctor, but decided to be a lawyer instead because he thought it would make him richer. He became very successful as a lawyer, a mayor, and a judge. Even though he had lots of money, he realized that his wealth wasn’t making him happy, and he began to give his money to the poor. Bernardino learned about the Jesuits, an order of priests who had just come to his city. He made friends with some of them, and when he heard a homily that one of them preached at Mass, he was moved and asked the priest to hear his confession. When this priest talked to him, he realized that Bernardino might have a vocation to the priesthood. Bernardino went on a retreat where he had a vision of Mary, who told him to join the Jesuits.
After he became a priest, Bernardino was put in charge of novices, the men who are studying to be priests. He also taught the faith and ministered to the sick. In 1574, Bernardino established a community of Jesuits in the city of Lecce, and he stayed there for 42 years ministering to the people there. More than once, his superiors ordered him to move back to Rome or Naples, but he was never able to do it. The weather would turn bad, or Bernardino would get sick, and he would be unable to go. After a while, his superiors decided that God must want Bernardino to stay in Lecce, and they stopped trying to move him. The people of Lecce loved Bernardino, and when he was sick and dying, they asked him to intercede for their city after he died. When Bernardino became a saint, he was named the patron saint of Lecce.
- Pray for your local police and fire fighters, your mayor and other city officials.
- Go to a park in your neighborhood and enjoy the day. When you’re done, be sure to leave it neater than when you arrived.
- Visit a neighbor or invite neighbors to your house.
- Can you think of other ways to be a good member of your community?