27 August 2014
R.I.P. Father Gary Bernhardt, O.F.M.
A Quincy, Ill., native died Tuesday after a boat hit a submerged tree and capsized at Lake Taneycomo in southwest Missouri.Father Gary, though twenty years older than me, was ordained a priest just a few years before me. We grew up in the same parish and his family was always very kind to me.
The Missouri Highway Patrol said the Rev. Gary A. Bernhardt, 56, was a passenger in a 1994 Shawnee johnboat at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. The boat drifted, struck a fallen tree in the water, then capsized a quarter-mile east of the dam, about three miles from Branson.
The operator of the boat, James Pelletier, 71, of O'Fallon, Mo., and another passenger climbed to safety by getting on top of the boat and taking hold of a tree limb. The two men were unhurt, the Highway Patrol said [more].
Please, in the charity of your prayers, remember Father Gary and his family, together with the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province.
I regret that I will be unable to attend his funeral or visitation; tomorrow morning I must return to Rome. ( Father, Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S. is a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois studying canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University.)