The Cihlar Family
My family joined St. Bernard about three or four years ago. We had been attending mass at various churches in the area each weekend trying to find the right fit. We all kept feeling drawn to St. Bernard. We felt a warmth and genuine welcome, we felt comfortable at mass, loved the music and relevant homilies, and appreciated the cultural diversity of the people. I remember the first time we were there, Deacon Mike introduced himself to us. It was a really warm, genuine welcome. What surprised me was that every weekend after that, he greeted me by name and made it a point to talk with my family. He has invited my family to be a part of different aspects of the church and we are grateful to have made some wonderful friends here and our faith has grown immeasurably because of it.
Another reason we were drawn to St. Bernard was its engaging youth program. For the first time, my two teenage sons didn’t dread going to religious education. They said they had fun because they played games, did fun activities, and talked about important things. For our busy family, Discipleship Nights made increasing our faith so easy. The fact that a delicious meal was provided greatly reduced stress for us and let us slow down for one night a week. By providing opportunities for adults to connect and grow in faith together while the kids were in their classes was a game changer for my husband and I. We have learned so much from the groups we have been a part of as we share our faith experiences and develop true Christian friendships.
The Pereira Family
We are the Pereira’s, a family of 4 – Julius Costatino Pereira, Jenney Rodrigues é Pereira and our children Lynn and Raphael.
Just in case you are guessing whether we are from Mexico or from some other beautiful South American country, we are not. We come from the land of a billion sparks – India; specifically, from the land of sand, sea and seafood – Goa; a tiny state on the west coast of the Indian sub-continent. (Also best described by some as the “Miami of India”) Unlike the rest of India that was ruled by the British, Goa was colonized by the Portuguese back in the 15th century which explains our western names, the Portuguese culture and above all the Portuguese cuisine.
Catholicism does exist in India and specifically in Goa, big time! Christianity was introduced to the people of Goa by the Portuguese. The first Christian missionary to Goa was St. Francis Xavier. He was very much loved by the people and because of his teachings about Christ, there were many conversions to Christianity. Goa is therefore the home of the holy relics of St. Francis Xavier, which are kept in a silver casket, elevated inside the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage site.
We were born and raised Catholic and have grown up with strong Christian values, inculcated by our parents and grandparents.
In 2010, when Facebook had just begun taking over as the leading social networking site, Julius and I also started networking and met shortly thereafter. We were married in 2011, 3 years after we were blessed with a beautiful daughter, and just last year the Lord again blessed us with a son. We love them to bits and enjoy every moment spent with each of them. Needless to say, they rule our world!
Our journey of a thousand miles across (precisely 8800 miles) to the United States in 2011 was due to work. We fell in love with the place instantly. Loved the culture, the history and most of all the genuine kindness of the people over here. We are big foodies and love the fact that we can explore various cuisines out here as well.
Over the last 7 years, we have moved to various cities around the U.S. due to work – Atlanta-GA, Draper-UT, Milwaukee-WI, Dublin-OH and now Appleton-WI. During this journey, we became part of a parish in each city and made lots of friends with whom we shared our faith, our love and our joy. But, among all the places that we have been to, Appleton stands out because it really feels like home. When we arrived here and were in search of a church, it was a “no-brainer” that St. Bernard was the parish we were looking for, it felt like home. We are, to this day, taken up by the warmth and friendship of the parishioners at St. Bernard’s. And are continually amazed by the passion and dedication with which the parish staff works so hard to give us tons of opportunities for individuals and families to connect with each other.
It is with great pride that we say, “We are fortunate to belong to St. Bernard Parish, to be an integral part of the entire parish family and be valued for it.”