Born Sebastian Hartman on October 19, 1881, he was the son of Benedict Hartman and Mary Elizabeth Stutz (Stutts). His uncle was Father Sebastian Stutts, C.P. The Stutts family were early benefactors of the Passionists in the United States from the produce of their farm in Butler, Pennsylvania. This was the farm of Michael Stutts, who often allowed Passionists to rest there during their travels. In fact, four members of the Hartman family became Passionists: Caspar Hartman who died in 1918 and two sisters who became Passionist Nuns: Mother Mary Chrysostom Hartman who was in Dunmore, Pennsylvania and died in 1945 and Mother Mary Mathilda who was at the Erlanger, Kentucky community.
After being educated at St. Michael’s School in Pittsburgh, at 15 Sebastian went to the Passionist Preparatory seminary at St. Mary’s Dunkirk, New York. Novitiate followed back in Pittsburgh. On April 4, 1899 he made his profession and received the name Bernard.
His class prepared for priesthood in Louisville for three years and Baltimore for two years. In 1905 they were deacons in Scranton – the first class of students at the new monastery of St. Ann. On June 30, 1906 Bishop Hoban ordained them at the Scranton Cathedral.
Father Hartman’s first assignment was as a curate at St. Michael’s, Pittsburgh. He showed great care for the poor, sick and aged. Later, he was assigned as chaplain at St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore and returned there for a second assignment years later. This totaled twenty years as a hospital chaplain. Included in this was his being chaplain at West Mountain Sanitarium.
After his first turn at St. Agnes he went to St. Joseph’s in West Hoboken for seventeen years as curate and pastor. One of his favorite stories was the time that Father Hartman convinced the New York Giants under John McGraw and the Philadelphia Athletics under Connie Mack to play a exhibition baseball game in Newark for the benefit of St. Joseph’s Parish. He also promoted Veronica’s Veil. However, the hectic pace of the assignment eventually wore Father Hartman down and it was with relief that he returned to St. Michael’s, Pittsburgh in 1927 to be an assistant pastor again. In 1931 he was back at St. Ann’s, Scranton where he eventually died.