The pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Father Bert Mello, passed away unexpectedly overnight. Mello was in his mid-60s when he passed away. And now the church is mourning this unexpected loss while knowing that his short tenure will be remembered.
“We had a priest luncheon Monday and he was at the luncheon and I passed him as he was sitting there, taped him on the shoulder real hard and said how you doing and he said fine…so this was a surprise,” said Monsignor Michael Braun, a retired priest from Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Shocked…that’s how Braun described his feelings when he heard the news about Father Mello. “The custodian called me this morning and woke me up and said that he had found Father in his bed and he had already died during the night,” said Braun.
Father Mello took over as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church after Braun retired in February of 2016. “He was very very enthusiastic especially for the school, he was really well liked by the children,” said Braun. A quality that he felt led Father Mello to be picked by the Bishop for the position.
“He wants to make sure that whoever goes there is gonna be a good pastor to the children, and that was his primary concern in choosing Father Bert.”
Mello had been a priest for almost five years…he was ordained June 1, 2013. He planned to be a deacon but ended up getting ordained for the diocese in Fresno. Prior to coming to Bakersfield he was part of the parish at Saint Anthony’s in Fresno for three years.
And Braun says even though Mello was only part of the church for a little over two years...“He was so enthusiastic about everything that they are gonna miss that. Whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill,” said Braun.
It has not yet been announced when funeral services for Father Mello will be held. Officials with the church say that will be released in the following days. It has also not been announced who will succeed Father Mello at the church.