Building a Solid Foundation

On April 8th, at the Steel Toes and Stilettos Gala, the Parish of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux received the second annual “Heart of Habitat” award for its long history of contribution to Tulsa Habitat for Humanity. 

Seven days prior the parish and Tulsa Habitat had celebrated the wall raising of a beautiful, craftsman-style bungalow in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood. This marked the eighteenth home constructed through the partnership between the Parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Tulsa Habitat for Humanity. For twenty years, the parish has worked tirelessly with Tulsa Habitat to provide safe, quality and affordable housing to those who need it. In that time, the parish has donated more than $500,000 to Tulsa Habitat, and its parishioners have served in the capacity of board members, volunteers, and individual donors. 

As many of the Saint Bernard parishioners will tell you, the partnership between the parish and Tulsa Habitat is largely due to one man: Deacon Richard Campbell, who served as the parish’s Justice and Peace Coordinator for nearly 30 years. As Deacon Tim Sullivan - the newly appointed Justice and Peace Coordinator - puts it, Deacon Campbell was “the impetus” behind the church’s involvement with Tulsa Habitat. 

However, Deacon Campbell is not one to take credit for the homes that have been built and the families that have been helped as a result of the church’s partnership with Tulsa Habitat; in fact, if you ask him about it, he will talk mostly about the generosity of his parishioners and all of the work that they have done over the years. “It was my project to start,” he says, “but certainly they continued and carried it on.” 

The Saint Bernard parishioners have undoubtedly been among the most hardworking and dedicated volunteers for Tulsa Habitat. “At house 18, you would have probably found 15 or 20 [parishioners] that can go back to almost every house that we have built,” says Campbell. 

The hard work and generosity that Deacon Campbell and the Saint Bernard parishioners have exhibited over the past twenty years reflect the church’s belief that, as the Reverend Monsignor Patrick Gaalaas puts it, “A strong family should have a sturdy home.” This straightforward yet powerful conviction, which inspired the church in 1997 to partner with Christ the King Parish to sponsor a Tulsa Habitat home for the first time, is manifest still today as the construction of the parish's 19th Habitat home is underway. The Saint Bernard Parish’s heart of compassion and generosity and its profound commitment to helping others have both been unwavering over the past twenty years.