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    Father Bernie Etienne said a prayer over the second-graders of Holy Rosary Catholic School in Evansville following the school Mass on April 11. Since 2006, Fr. Bernie has been the pastor for Holy Rosary Parish, which includes the elementary school. The Tell City native was ordained in 1993 and served as an associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper. He was among 12 pastors chosen to receive the 2013 Distinguished Pastor Award from the National Catholic Education Association.

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    Fr. Bernie got a laugh out of Holy Rosary eighth-grade teacher Bonnie Ambrose, bottom right, before the start of school April 11. Fr. Bernie popped in at the teachersÕ morning meeting between conducting a morning Mass for the public and a school Mass.

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    ÒIÕm the front man in this award. ThatÕs the way I look at it,Ó Fr. Bernie said about the 2013 Distinguished Pastor Award from the National Catholic Education Association. ÒGood things happen because I have a lot of good people here.Ó Having received the award a week earlier in Houston, Fr.. Bernie shared the award with the kindergartners at Holy Rosary Catholic Church on April 11.

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    Fr. Bernie simultaneously serves as pastor at Holy Rosary, dean of the Evansville East Deanery and vicar general of the diocese. He has been proactive in managing Holy Rosary Catholic SchoolÕs finances, working with the school board and communicating the messages of his homilies to the students, according to his nomination for the distinguished pastor award.

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    In 1993, Fr. Bernie was ordained and served as an associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper, under Father Pat Foster, for three years. He went on to serve as a pastor at St. Joseph Church in Princeton and Blessed Sacrament Church in Oakland City. Since 2006, he has been the pastor for Holy Rosary Parish in Evansville. On his way to prepare for the school Mass the morning of April 11, Fr. Bernie stopped to talk to a parishioner.

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    Fr. Bernie put on his vestments in preparation for Mass the morning of April 11. The 54-year-old got a late start in the priesthood. In 1981, he graduated from Indiana University with a marketing degree and began working in medical surgical supplies sales. He was interviewed to be accepted at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois on his 30th birthday

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    Fr. Bernie blessed Holy Rosary second-grader Ryan Morris during Communion at the morning school Mass at the church April 11. It was one of the last times Fr. Bernie gave Ryan and his classmates a blessing rather than Communion during Mass, because they have since made their First Communion.

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    Following the morning school Mass on April 11, Fr. Bernie greeted students with high-fives as they filed out of the church. Following the Mass, Fr. Bernie visited a couple of classrooms, including a stop to talk with the second-graders about their upcoming First Communion. He tries to have at least three deliberate interactions per week in the school but is available to visit classrooms when needed.

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    With a chain saw in hand, Fr. Bernie trekked through a portion of the 150 acres of ground just outside of Tell City that he owns with his brother Paul on April 9. At the time the brothers purchased the land in 1995, Paul was a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, but he has since become the bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo. For the past 15 years, Fr. Bernie has spent much of his time off practicing timber management on the land. He said the time he spends there helps him to escape the challenges of the ministry.