Father Justin Lazar | St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, Fernley, Nevada
Submitted by: Karen Hayes
I would like to nominate Fr. Justin Lazar as a hero priest of the pandemic. Fr. Justin is the pastor of St Robert Bellarmine Church in Fernley, Nevada in the Diocese of Reno. Shortly after St. Patrick’s Day the Churches in Reno were closed and going to Mass every day was not possible. Father Justin, through prayer and inspiration, decided to offer a prayer and bible study group on Zoom, a digital platform, seven days a week for 40 minutes a day. He opened the prayer group to anyone who wished to join and many people from different parishes were able to meet and pray with parishioners from other parishes. It was an opportunity to expand our local Christian Community and meet other Catholics throughout our diocese.
What began as a prayer for an end to the pandemic was just the beginning of a study of scripture, focused on the liturgical seasons we were moving through, that is truly a treasure. Father Justin has studied Sacred Scripture for over 25 years at the Seminary in India and in Rome. We are very fortunate to have a Priest share his love of the Bible and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers with us all. The Churches opened in Reno on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, yet the prayer group still continues 5 days a week. Studying and learning about the Sacred Scriptures and praying for an end to the pandemic our hero Priest helped us all to feed our souls and yearn for more.
He has opened up a new understanding of Sacred Scripture and bought together people from different parishes throughout the Diocese to study and pray.
I think Father deserves to be recognized for his dedication and service to the people of the Diocese of Reno: for going beyond streaming Masses, by fostering new spiritual connections with one another in an unprecedented time of isolation and loneliness, helping us to discover the riches and beauty of Sacred Scripture as food for our souls, and leading us in prayer for our needs and those of the world.