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Last Halloween, a Catholic priest called the police on a Kansas City mother of 11 for the apparent crime of praying while not wearing a mask inside his church in an otherwise empty pew.
That mother, Jane Bernardel, was subsequently hauled off by authorities like a criminal deviant and charged with trespassing. And they weren’t nice about it either.
Once outside, the police “didn’t like that I was asking the children to come [along],” Bernardel told LifeSiteNews in an interview this week.
“They were definitely thinking I was a really bad person. It started, really, when I just tried to genuflect. They didn’t want me to genuflect so … to other people it looked like I had been combative,” she added.
All this happened at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It’s a Bernardel family tradition to attend Vespers and recitations of the litany of the saints on Halloween, the eve of the great feast of All Saints, to sanctify a day they see as having been secularized. On Halloween 2020, Bernardel and some of her children prayed at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Kansas City, Missouri,” LifeSiteNews reported.
When they arrived, they found their regular pew empty, so they hurried inside and prayed for about 30 minutes, during which time Bernardel saw Father Gary Ziuraitis staring at her from the sacristy.
“There was just something about it that was odd. Then he went to the other side of the altar and came out to tell me to mask,” she said.
But considering that even he wasn’t masked, and they were all alone in the church anyway, she refused.
“I did not want to mask, and my children definitely were not going to mask. None of us were ill. We were all well. We were all very far from anybody in the church, so it seemed more authoritarian [of the priest] … it didn’t make sense to me,” she said.
That’s when Ziuraitis reportedly called the cops.
One of Bernardel’s older daughters, Isabella, reportedly arrived as her mother was being hauled off and handcuffed.
“The first thing, I really just froze. I just remember thinking it was the last thing on earth I ever, ever expected to see, in any situation,” she said to LifeSiteNews.
Looking back, it seems Bernardel has no regrets, in part because her experience inspired other Christians to reach out to her with their own experiences.
“Since that time, many people have come to me saying how they have been persecuted, too,” she said.
According to Bernardel, one of the women who reached out to her “was ostracized from the pulpit during the homily because she didn’t wear a mask.”
The woman was in her eighties.
“She was the only one not wearing a mask and was told to leave. She was very humble woman and left, and was not welcome in the church, and she would bring the Blessed Virgin Mary back with her and pray on the steps outside the church,” Bernardel said.
Another Kansas family that reached out to her described how, because of their refusal to wear masks, “they have to be roped off, they’re in a pew by themselves” every time they go to church.
Bernardel is now refusing to accept a plea deal that would reduce punishment to just a $300 fine and mandatory rehabilitation.
“I wasn’t [guilty of trespassing],” she said to LifeSiteNews.
It was an open church, after all.
All this ordeal has done, it seems, it strengthen her faith.
“Bernardel said the experience has awakened her to the reality of the persecution of the faithful flock, and it has encouraged her to prepare to defend the Faith,” according to LifeSiteNews.
“We need to be ready at all times to face the music and be ready to stand up for our faith. I think the uncanny thing was it came from the inside, it’s the Church, it feels like the Church is persecuting you,” she said to the outlet.
She reiterated though that she wasn’t “trying to pick a fight,” but rather to stand on principles.
“I think that it was just an innate thing that I offended God [by wearing a mask]. It felt offensive. … I didn’t know how fervently I felt about it [masking in church] except I was avoiding it. It really was a conscientious, innate thing in me that came forward,” she said.
“[While wearing a mask], I can’t even worship Him face to face; that’s sad,” she added. “To me, it’s just been twisted, and we are just trying to worship and give Him all the respect that is due Him and the love that is due Him.”
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