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I. C. Parish bids farewell to Fr. Armand Bertrand

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There will be a farewell reception for Father Armand Bertand on Sunday, June 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Cherokee Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Hall. Photo contributed
After 12 years as pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Cherokee, Father Armand J. Bertrand will begin a new assignment.

There will be a farewell reception for him on Sunday, June 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the church hall. The public is welcome to attend this event. His last weekend in the parish will be July 13 and July 14, just a few days before he and Fr. Daniel Guenther from Immaculate Conception in Morningside, Sioux City will exchange communities.

Fr. Bertrand began his ministry in the Cherokee parish in July of 2000. His service to the region evolved to include several pastoral roles. These included responsibilities at Visitation, Maryhill and St. John, Quimby. His duties changed again when St. John parish was closed and a storm destroyed the Maryhill church. Fr. Bertrand was assigned to Holy Name in Marcus following the retirement of Fr. Eugene Murray. The Cherokee and Marcus communities will bid him farewell.

He is a native of Sioux City where he attended Morningside College. He earned a master's degree in music at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. He taught band for five years in the Primghar public school system and for 12 years at Bishop Garrigan High School, Algona, before going to the seminary.

Fr. Bertrand said, "During those years in Algona I was drawn more and more in the life of the parish. The deaconate was just getting under way. I made an inquiry and thought that this would be a great way to enhance my understanding and knowledge of the church." He joined the program and became a deacon in April of 1981, and then found that the thoughts of priesthood began to resurface. After much discernment, he resigned his teaching position, sold his house, and began his seminary studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, Wisconsin in 1985 where he received a Masters of Divinity, and was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Epiphany of July 22, 1989.

Before arriving in Cherokee, Fr. Bertrand served at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Sioux City; Heelan High School, Sioux City; St. Mary Parish and High School, Storm Lake; Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Fonda; and St. Columbkille, Varina.

Other responsibilities he held during these 12 years include: his role as co-director of the permanent diaconate program, beginning in 1991; Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Central Deanery that includes five counties; member of the diocesan strategic planning committee; and member of the diocesan presbyteral council.

He will be remembered as the visionary and coordinator of the renovation/restoration of IC Church and the rebuild of the 21 rank Moeller pipe organ; for the beautification of the church grounds; for his Masses at the nursing homes in Cherokee, Marcus, and Aurelia; for visits to the sick in the hospital and in homes; his Masses and reconciliation services with students in faith formation; for his beautiful voice; and for his outstanding homilies.

Fr. Bertrand enjoyed significant parish celebrations during his years as pastor in Cherokee. On December 8, 2001, parishioners were joined by Bishop Daniel DiNardo, now Cardinal DiNardo, for the 94th anniversary of the dedication of the church building. On Feb. 23, 2003, Fr. Bertrand joined Fr. Eriberto da Costa and the choir of St. Mary, Storm Lake, for the first Spanish Mass in the Cherokee parish. On April 1, 2006, the parishioners were joined by Bishop R. Walker Nickless for the dedication of the new altar of sacrifice which Fr. Bertrand designed. He also designed the pulpit and tabernacle pedestal. Fr. Bertrand's design of the new sanctuary chairs was inspired by the original chairs designed by William Steel, who was the architect of the IC Church. On Oct. 8, 2008, he held the dedication of the prayer garden next to the church, and on Dec. 8 of that year the parish celebrated the centennial of the dedication of the church building. On Feb. 12, 2012, he and parishioners celebrated the rededication of the church's renovation/restoration; and on May 20, 2012, they celebrated with a pipe organ concert featuring Mr. Rick Darrow of Darrow Pipe Organ Company.

When asked what he most enjoys about being a priest, he said, "I enjoy the people of God. I enjoy celebrating the sacraments of the church with them. I am deeply humbled and honored that they invite me into the spiritual part of their lives -- from the joys of birth and marriage to the sadness of loss and deep distress."

Reflecting on his vocation, he said, "For me my vocation simply evolved naturally from one calling to another. In one sense it feels like I am home now (the priesthood) -- where I belong."

There will be a farewell potluck celebrated at Holy Name, Marcus, on July 8 at 12:30 p.m.

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