Jorge Bernal is the first Bishop produced by the Legionaries of Christ. Since the 16th of July, 1970 he has served the diocese of Quinana Roo in south east Mexico. Before becoming a Bishop, Jorge worked in the formation of future Legionaries at the Apostolic School in Tlalpan. He was ordained a priest in 1957 at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. He was one of the first graduates of the Legionaries "Apostolic School" (Junior Seminary) system to be ordained.
I knew him well when he worked in Tlalpan, Mexico at the Legionaries "Apostolic School." I admire his work in the diocese of Quintana Roo, one of the youngest "states" in the Mexican Republic. When Monsignor first went there it was designated a "Territory," not a "state." The conditions were harsh, the people poor, the climate hot and humid. Quintana Roo was the first "mission terrritory" entrusted to the Legion. The well known tourist resorts of Can Cun, Cozumel and the Mexican Riviera are thriving developments in Quintana Roo. Most, if not all, the parishes in the state are run by the Legionaries of Christ.
A few days ago someone sent me the following story:
A young couple showed up at the Cathedral in Chetumal - the capital of the state - to meet with Bishop Bernal in preparation for their forthcoming wedding. When they entered the dimly lit Church they were not quite sure where they were supposed to go. They saw a man sweeping the aisle of the Church. They approached him and asked where they could find Mons. Bernal. The diminutive man replied, "He'll be right with you. Please take a seat while you wait." Then he headed to the sacristy carrying his mop and broom.
A few minutes later Monsignor Bernal emerged from the sacristy wearing his clerical garb and his pectoral cross (worn by Bishops.) He walked to where the couple were sitting. "Good morning, I apologize for making you wait." Then he sat down beside them. That was when the couple realized that he was the same person they had seen sweeping the Church a few minutes before.
As I said, I know Monsignor Bernal. As I said, I have not seen or heard from him in many years. The story is entirely believable and quite typical of his approach to being a shepherd of souls. He is a very special man.
This little incident in the Chetumal cathedral is typical of the little untold stories one does not hear about the Legionaries of Christ. Do the Legionaries have major challenges, defects and huge obstacles to overcome in the light of the scandalous revelations about the founder's double life? You bet. Meanwhile, men like Jorge Bernal and his missionary priests do the Lord's work to the best of their ability, ministering to the poor and the tourists in Quintana Roo.