03 May 2013

Rev Michael Barber, SJ Named New Bishop of Oakland

In yet another surprising move Francis has named a non-Bishop to succeed Abp Cordileone as Bishop of Oakland. Father Michael Barber will be ordained as Bishop and installed as Bishop of Oakland later this month (25th May).

From the Fort Mill Times

OAKLAND, Calif. --
Pope Francis has named Reverend Michael Barber, SJ, 58, as the Fifth Bishop of Oakland. Fr. Barber until now has been Director of Spiritual Formation at St. John’s Seminary, Archdiocese of Boston. His installation as Bishop of Oakland will take place at 11:00AM on May 25 at Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light.

On July 27, 2012, Oakland’s Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was appointed Archbishop of San Francisco and was installed in that office on October 4, 2012. At that time Pope Benedict appointed retired Archbishop Alex Brunett to act as Apostolic Administrator in Oakland, to manage day-to-day business of the Diocese until a new bishop was named.

Archbishop Brunett will introduce Fr. Barber at a news conference on Friday, May 3, at 10AM at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Media should enter through the main conference center entrance at 2121 Harrison Street, Oakland.

Fr. Michael Barber, SJ.

Fr. Barber was born in 1954 in Salt Lake City, where his parents were on temporary assignment with the company his father worked for. He has deep roots in the Bay Area, where his parents were born and where he was raised. He entered the seminary of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1973, received his undergraduate degree at Gonzaga University and his graduate degrees in theology at Regis College and the Gregorian University in Rome.

After being ordained a priest in San Francisco in 1985, Fr. Barber continued his studies in Rome and at Oxford University. In 1991 he became a commissioned officer in the United States Naval Reserve and achieved the rank of Captain in 2012. He has served as Group Chaplain for the Marine Aircraft Group, as Deputy Division Chaplain for the 4th Marine Division and Deputy Force Chaplain for Reserve Affairs for Marine Forces Pacific, among many other assignments.

Locally Fr. Barber has been Director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. From 2002-10 he taught at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and was Director of Spiritual Formation there. Presently he is Director of Spiritual Formation at St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston.

(Insert) In an interview given for Legatus a while back, Fr Barber responded:

           You are also a Navy chaplain.

Yes. I was attracted to the Naval Reserves when I was stationed in Rome. They invited me to celebrate Mass in 1991 on an American warship coming into Naples during the first Gulf War. I spent the weekend visiting with the sailors. As I was leaving the ship, the captain said to me, “We’ve got to get you some gold stripes to put around your sleeves.” So I asked permission to join the Navy reserves. I heard that sailors were attending Protestant services because there were no Catholic priests available. More than anything that inspired me to volunteer.

How has your Navy service affected your priesthood?

With the military you get a direct cross-section of America — a lot of the young people who wouldn’t have the tuition money to go to a Jesuit school. I like that. It’s a little more rough-and-tumble than you would encounter in a refined schoolroom atmosphere. You also meet many unchurched kids. I am their chaplain whether they like it or not. I go around the whole ship to all the Marines in the whole unit. I speak to them about moral issues or give them briefs about religious culture.

I’ve also made friends with chaplains from other faiths. I’ve known one for 18 years, and I’m like an uncle to his kids. I would never be that close to a Southern Baptist in normal life.

Diocese of Oakland (Back to original article)

As Bishop of Oakland, Fr. Barber will be the chief shepherd for over 550,000 Catholics who reside in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The Diocese of Oakland was created in 1962 and is comprised of 84 parishes within those counties. The First Bishop of Oakland was the Most Reverend Floyd Begin who served from 1962 until his death in 1977. He was succeeded by Bishop John Cummins who retired in 2003. Archbishop Allen Vigneron and then Salvatore Cordileone were the Third and Fourth Bishops of the Diocese.