Parishioners from Fort Simpson, Behchoko, Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Northern Alberta say their lives were blessed by knowing Father Bernie Black.
“He first came North and to our Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith in 2001,” recalls former priest and friend Jim Lynn who knew him from his ministry with the Blackfoot and neighboring First Nations around Calgary.
“We go back a long ways. I looked it up and the first recorded baptism in our Diocese in the North was on November 18, 2001 in Fort Chipewyan. He’s done 300 baptisms, celebrated 21 marriages and 123 funerals,” Lynn told CKLB before a memorial service in Yellowknife.
Naila Cazon first met Father Bernie in Hay River at a prayer service.
“He moved to our community of Fort Simpson in 2014, and that is when our friendship really solidfied. It was his openess, his compassion for everyone across the world. He had people calling him from far away as Tel aviv, Israel,” recalled Cazon.
Father Black died on September 22, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario. He was 80 years old.
Memorial masses and celebrations of life were held in Hay River and Yellowknife.
Black’s funeral was celebrated by Father James Mascarenhas on September 28th in his hometown church, St. John’s in Glenleg, Grey County, Ontario.