Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Michael Barber’
Jesuit Father Michael Barber, 59, was installed as bishop of the Oakland Diocese on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif. Appointed by Pope Francis, Bishop Barber is the fifth bishop in the history of the diocese and the first Jesuit.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone was the ordaining bishop of Bishop Barber, who succeeds him in Oakland. Bishop Barber was installed with his brother, Jesuit Father Stephen Barber, at his side. Another brother, Kevin Barber, served as a reader.
“People have asked me, ‘what is your vision as bishop?’ I would like to do for Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole church,” Bishop Barber said.
“My vision is this: The priests take care of the people. The bishop takes care of the priests. And we all take care of the poor, and the sick and the suffering.”
He offered greetings to Gov. Jerry Brown, who had trained three and a half years as a Jesuit, before becoming governor of California, twice, and mayor of Oakland.
“Governor, I’m honored that you are here today, because on this day, only here in Oakland, in the state of California, in the United States of America, do you have a Jesuit bishop, to go with a Jesuit pope and a Jesuit governor.”
Bishop Barber’s career as a priest focused on education, with assignments including assistant professor of theology at Gregorian University in Rome; researcher and tutor at Oxford University in England; director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; assistant professor of systematic and moral theology and spiritual director at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, Calif.; and director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.
Bishop Barber said that until three weeks ago it never entered his mind that he would be bishop of Oakland.
In his initial nervousness, he said he recalled that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the previous apostolic nuncio, had told a priest who was nervous about being made a bishop: The Lord himself is going to be bishop of your diocese. You’re only going to help him.
“That’s what I’d like to do,” he said. “I’m helping our Lord here be the bishop of this diocese. I know I’m unworthy, but I do know one other thing: That for all eternity, in the mind of God, to be bishop of Oakland has been my vocation. With God’s help, and your prayers, and the love of Mother Mary, I intend to fulfill it.” [Catholic San Francisco]
Below is video of Bishop Barber’s remarks at the end of his episcopal ordination Mass in Oakland.
Jesuit Father Michael Barber will be installed as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. Before being named bishop earlier this month, he had served in a wide range of ministries, including as a missionary in Western Samoa, an assistant professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a tutor and chaplain at the University of Oxford and as a chaplain for the U.S. Navy.
Bishop-elect Barber’s time as a military chaplain included active duty in 2003 to serve the 6,000 troops in the 4th Marine Air Wing who participated in the invasion of Iraq.
Bishop-elect Barber joined the Chaplain Corps shortly after the first Gulf War, while he was studying at the Gregorian University. In 1991, U.S. Navy ships began arriving in Naples, and the call came for Catholic priests to say Mass aboard ships.
In Naples he learned that 30 percent of Marine officers are Catholic, and that there weren’t enough Catholic chaplains to minister to them. As a result, many were converting to other religions.
“All of this inspired me to sign up,” recalled Bishop-elect Barber. “I never knew much about the Navy, but I was inspired by the tremendous needs of these people and by their great generosity.”
Bishop-elect Barber said about ministering during wartime: “As a Catholic and a priest, I agree with the papal teachings regarding this war. And as a member of the military, I know what my duty is: to serve the Marines wherever they are. If they are put into combat, I want to be with them to give them the sacraments.
“When Marines see a priest going on marches with them and sleeping in the same tent, they show you tremendous gratitude. They are so happy I was there for them,” he said.
As a military chaplain, Bishop-elect Barber counseled soldiers of all denominations, with most soldiers wanting to discuss marital problems. “They would come to me with ‘Dear John’ e-mails,” said Fr. Barber. “This is the biggest issue, even in times of peace. The pressure is sometimes too much for spouses who worry about their partners dying.”
According to Bishop-elect Barber, ministering to the military was important because he was able to reach men and women with whom the Jesuits didn’t have contact with through Jesuit schools.
For more on Bishop-elect Barber’s time as a military chaplain, read the full story at the Saint Ignatius College Prep website.
Pope Francis has named Jesuit Father Michael Barber, 58, a member of the California Province Jesuits and director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, as bishop of Oakland, California.
The appointment was announced by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“I offer my congratulations and prayers to Bishop-elect Barber. As fellow Sacramentans, we have known one another for many years,” said Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. “ I know him to be a man of prayer and discernment who will be a fine pastor for the people of Oakland.”
Bishop-elect Barber is the first Jesuit named to the U.S. hierarchy by Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope.
“I’m keeping my eyes on Pope Francis and seeing what he did in his first days as pope,” said Bishop-elect Barber at an introductory news conference in Oakland on May 3. “I think he wants servant leaders … who look to the needs of the people. Listen first, speak second.”
Bishop-elect Barber was born July 13, 1954, in Salt Lake City. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1973 and was ordained a priest for the Society in 1985. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history/philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington; a Master of Divinity and bachelor of sacred theology degrees from Regis College of the University of Toronto; and a licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
His assignments after ordination included: missionary in Apia, Western Samoa (1985-1987); student at Gregorian University and assistant professor of theology there (1987-1992); researcher and tutor at Oxford University (1992-1998); director, School of Pastoral Leadership, Archdiocese of San Francisco (1998-2001); assistant professor of systematic and moral theology and spiritual director, St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park, California (2002-2010); and director of spiritual formation, St. John’s Seminary (2010-present).
Bishop-elect Barber said he would like “from time to time to get into the classroom” because education is a priority of the Jesuits. He added he also wants to “visit city jails and county jails as the pope has” and to visit Catholic Charities facilities, “getting my hands dirty in soup kitchen by washing dishes, pots and pans.”
He also spoke of jail ministry: “It’s one of those ministries expressly commended by Christ for us to do. ‘When I was in prison you visited me.’ You can’t get more explicit than that.”
Bishop-elect Barber succeeds Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who was named head of the San Francisco Archdiocese on July 27, 2012. The Oakland Diocese includes 1,467 square miles and two counties, Alameda and Contra Costa, in California. The diocese has 2,586,396 people, with 399,546, or 15 percent of them, Catholic.
“From its origin, the Society of Jesus was formed to be an instrument of Christ by serving the Church. Though Jesuits promise not to seek high office in the Church, when asked by the Holy Father, we respond to the call and serve as bishops. We promise our brother Jesuit Father Michael Barber our full support and continued affection as he continues to minister to the people of God in this new mission,” said Jesuit Father Michael F. Weiler, Provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus. [America Magazine, Catholic News Service]