Bernárd has an interdisciplinary doctorate in counselling psychology and theology from Fordham University and New York Theological Seminary. For fifteen successive years he was Theological Consultant to the Board of Directors of Dignity New York – an organization for Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual Catholics and their friends – and founded the AIDS/HIV Ministry of Dignity New York in 1982, which continues its work to the present day.
Bernárd is a social and LGBTQI activist since the early 1980s, and continues to work in the areas of social justice and oppression. For over ten years he was a member of the Mayor of New York's voluntary Task Force on HIV/AIDS, and was the only Roman Catholic priest to testify before the City Council for the successful passage of Civil Rights legislation for the LGBT community in 1986. He continued his work with HIV/AIDS in London until 2011.
He has been profiled numerous times in broadcast media – including Channel 4, BBC HARDtalk, BBC Radio 4, Sky News – for his work in the areas of social justice and oppression. He has published two books: A Priest on Trial (Bloomsbury, 1993), and If It Wasn't Love, Sex, Death and God (Circle Books, 2012), and numerous chapters in LGBT publications.
He was a trustee and chair of Camden LGBT Forum and the first representative of the Irish LGBT community to City Hall for the London Saint Patrick's Day Parade until end of 2016.