Former Ruston Priest Passed Away

On August 26th, Fr. Gary Bernhardt, OFM was lost to this world in a tragic boating accident on Lake Taneycomo, near Branson, MO.  He was fishing with two other men at the time when their boat capsized, tossing all those on board into the water.  Fr. Gary’s two companions managed to survive the incident, but unfortunately Fr. Gary was gravely injured while being swept downstream and later died at the local hospital in Branson.

Fr. Gary served in a number of locations within the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart as Secretary of the Province, Spiritual Assistant for the Secular Franciscans, Parochial Vicar and as Pastor of several locations including our own St. Thomas Parish in Ruston where he served faithfully as Pastor from 2004 to 2008.  Fr. Gary did a great job in Ruston and was certainly loved by the Catholic community of Lincoln Parish.  He was currently serving as Director of Franciscan Charities and the Province Development Director.

Fr. Gary loved fishing, being with his brother Friars and serving the many people he met in his various ministries.  He also loved helping others, especially with his computer knowledge and experience with technology.  His cheerful presence and unselfish willingness to put others before himself will be deeply missed.

by John Mark Willcox

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