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Joseph Louis Bernardin Collection, 1966-1997
One and one-quarter linear feet, 1966-1997, relate to Columbia native and former University of South Carolina student Joseph Louis Bernardin (1928-1996), who, within a year after his death as Archbishop of Chicago, was described as "the best documented religious figure in recent history" (The New World, Chicago, 4 April 1997).

The principal collection of Bernardin's letters, writings, and documents resides in Chicago in the newly renovated Archdiocesan Records Center, which in 1997 was renamed and dedicated as the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives and Record Center. Bernardin himself had had a personal interest in archiving, having served at one time as episcopal moderator for the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists. The Midwest Archivists honored him with its President Award in 1989.

This unit, however, represents the collection of two of the Cardinal's family members in Columbia: his cousin John Bernardin (1933-1998) and John's wife, Libby Bernardin. Consisting chiefly of news clippings, articles, and printed programs commemorating Joseph L. Bernardin's career as a churchman, it focuses upon his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta by Pope Paul VI in 1966 and as Archbishop of Cincinnati in 1972; as Archbishop of Chicago by Pope John Paul II in 1982; and his election to the Sacred College of Cardinals in Rome early in 1983.

One program pertains to the rededication in 1984 of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Charleston, S.C.) where he served for fourteen years. Two others relate to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Columbia on 11 September 1987. The simple, elegant program for his funeral rites, 20 November 1996, contains a color photograph and a biography of the Cardinal, who served as Seventh Archbishop of Chicago from 1982 to 1996.

The collection also contains seventeen samples of his columns and letters published in the Chicago Catholic from 1982 to 1992, as well as copies of nine of his speeches and homilies presented between 1982 and 1985. Among the latter is an annotated copy of his homily "I Am Joseph Your Brother," which was delivered at Evening Prayer on 24 August 1982 on the occasion of the presentation of his letter of appointment as Archbishop of Chicago. In this he said, "To be good priests we must first be good men. This requires that we seek to understand the mystery of our whole humanity. We must make provision for our physical, emotional, and psychological health. We [simply] cannot hide from life. Our vocation is not a matter of 'easy hours and no heavy lifting.' Only by living life in all its complexity will we be able to serve our people with compassion. Our genuine interest and authenticity should be manifest. If we are truly comfortable with ourselves and have a deep appreciation of our celibate commitment, we should not fear opening of ourselves to others in love and lasting friendships. Like everyone else, the priest needs affection."

Other items of interest include an audio tape of the sermon Bernardin preached on the occasion of his installation as Archbishop of Cincinnati, 19 December 1972, and a handwritten note to John and Libby Bernardin accompanying an invitation to the ceremony of consecration of Bernardin as Titular Bishop-elect of Lugura, Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Atlanta, 26 April 1966, "Many thanks for everything. I look forward to being with you this weekend."

A card of remembrance from his first pontifical mass celebrated in Atlanta, 4 May 1966, features an early portrait of Bernardin. The collection contains two other important photographs: a large, undated, tinted portrait of Bernardin made by Brooks of Washington and Bethesda; and a picture showing the Cardinal introducing an aunt, Mrs. Severino Bernardin of Columbia, S.C., to Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1983 on the occasion of the Archbishop's elevation to the College of Cardinals.

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