Although operated as separate corporations, three organizations have long contributed to the history of the Diocese of Rochester.
Through nearly nine decades of forming future priests and its modern mission of preparing both men and women for various church ministries, St. Bernard’s has been revered in diocesan educational circles since the late 19th century.
In 1879, Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid began raising funds to construct St. Bernard’s Seminary for young men of the Rochester Diocese. In 1893 St. Bernard’s main building and chapel opened for 39 students and a faculty of eight.
Over the years, the seminary trained thousands of men for the priesthood. In later years, the numbers of men entering seminaries declined significantly across the United States, and St. Bernard’s Seminary closed in 1981.
Yet other aspects of St. Bernard’s ministry live on, thanks to a decision in the late 1960s to begin admitting lay men and women to theological studies. In September 1981, the school relocated to the campus of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, was renamed St. Bernard’s Institute and began to operate as a private institution with a close working relationship with the Diocese of Rochester.
In 2002 the school’s name was changed to St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. The following year it moved to a brand-new, 17,000-square-foot facility at 120 French Road in Pittsford.
Currently, St. Bernard’s offers master’s degrees in theological studies, pastoral studies and divinity. Also available is a non-degree certification program offering three courses of study chiefly for prospective lay parish ministers. A comparable program, the Instituto Pastoral Hispano, is available for members of the Hispanic community.
St. Bernard’s also offers continuing-education opportunities and conducts a four-year formation program for men pursuing ordination to the permanent diaconate.
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
In the early to mid-1800s, numerous cemeteries were serving the needs of diocesan Catholics. Perceiving a need to unite diocesan Catholics of all nationalities with a single burial ground, Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid secured a 110-acre tract of farmland along both sides of today’s Lake Avenue to establish a diocesan cemetery for all diocesan Catholics. In 1871, he dedicated and solemnly consecrated Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
“The intention is to make the cemetery of the Holy Sepulchre such a one as the whole Catholic body of Rochester will be proud of as the last home of their deceased family and friends,” Bishop McQuaid remarked.
In subsequent years, Holy Sepulchre expanded its grounds, adding All Souls Chapel in 1876 as well as shrine sections and mausoleums. Construction began in 1978 on the Resurrection Garden Mausoleum, and All Saints Mausoleum was added in 1993.
When permission for Catholics to be cremated under certain circumstances was written into Canon Law in 1983, the cemetery also added columbaria, niches in its mausoleums and cremation graves to accept cremated remains.
The newest addition to Holy Sepulchre is the Christ Our Light Mausoleum, which was dedicated in 2008. That same year, construction began on Ascension Garden, a 109-acre facility located at 1900 Pinnacle Road in Henrietta. The new cemetery, which opened in 2010, is Holy Sepulchre’s first auxiliary site and offers more than 100,000 burial spaces.
Holy Sepulchre and Ascension Garden received a Green Burial Certification in 2013 from the national Green Burial Council, becoming the first Catholic cemetery in New York state to earn such recognition.
The Catholic Courier has evolved continuously since Oct. 5, 1889, when three laymen produced 1,000 copies of The Catholic Journal’s debut edition.
The paper has gone through several name changes over the years. In 1929 it became the Catholic Courier and Journal and achieved recognition as an official publication of the Diocese of Rochester. By the time of its 50th anniversary, the paper dropped “and Journal,” becoming simply Catholic Courier, a name to which it returned on its 100th anniversary in 1989.
From the 1960s onward, rapid technological advances brought many improvements to the paper’s appearance and readability. The newspaper has won hundreds of awards for journalistic, photographic and design excellence since the mid-1980s.
The Courier launched its website, www.CatholicCourier.com, in 1996. Major upgrades occurred in 2003 and 2009, and a new site launched in 2017. The paper also has established itself on a range of social- media platforms, and offers two weekly e-newsletters and an interactive digital replica of its print edition.
In 2004, the Courier transformed from a weekly newspaper reaching approximately 43,000 Catholic households to a monthly news magazine reaching every registered Catholic household in the diocese.
In 2005, it launched the Spanish-language El Mensajero Cat√≥lico, which offers a bilingual website, social-media outlets, an e-newsletter and an interactive digital replica.