My dear people of St. Mary’s,
On December 9, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United Sates, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation due to age of Bishop William Murphy, and that the Holy Father had appointed Bishop John Barres, the Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania, to be the 5th Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Effective immediately, Bishop Murphy becomes the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, and so will continue to run it, until Bishop Barres’ formal installation on January 31, 2017, at St. Agnes Cathedral. Bishop Barres is 56 years old.
Bishop John Oliver Barres was born on September 20, 1960, and is a native of Larchmont, New York. His parents, Oliver and Marjorie Barres, both deceased, were Protestant ministers who met each other at the Yale Divinity School and entered the Catholic Church in 1955. The story of their conversion is told in Oliver Barres’ book One Shepherd, One Flock, which was published in 1955 and republished in 2000 by Catholic Answers (with forewords by long-time family friends Avery Cardinal Dulles and Fr. Benedict Groeschel). Bishop Barres is the fifth of six children: four older sisters and one younger brother.
Bishop Barres was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in 1960, while his father was working for the Bishop at the Propagation of the Faith in New York City. Bishop Barres is a graduate of Phillips Academy (Andover), Princeton University (with a B.A. in English Literature), where he also played junior varsity basketball, and then attended New York University Graduate School of Business Administration (M.B.A. in Management). His theological education includes a Bachelor’s degree (S.T.B.) and a Licentiate (S.T.L.) in Systematic Theology, both from the Catholic University of America (where he received seminary formation at Theological College) in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Barres was ordained to the priesthood October 21, 1989, for the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware. He served in parish work for seven years, before going to Rome for further studies. There he earned a Licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.) and a Doctorate in the field of Spiritual Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. So, he has advanced degrees in Systematic Theology, Canon Law and Spiritual Theology. In addition to his native English, Bishop Barres is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian.
Returning home, he served as Vice-Chancellor and then Chancellor of his diocese of Wilmington. St. John Paul II name him a Monsignor in July of 2000. Msgr. Barres was named the fourth Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. He was ordained and installed as bishop by Justin Cardinal Rigali on July 30, 2009.
Over the last seven years in Allentown he has been an exemplary shepherd, noted for his unassuming personality, his work ethic, and his use of modern social media in spreading the Gospel message and the New Evangelization, fostering vocations and supporting Catholic schools. Bishop Barres serves on the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
The Bishop’s motto is “Holiness and Mission”. This is taken from a phrase in St. John Paul’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio. His Holiness wrote: “The call to mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness. A missionary is really such only if he commits himself to the way of holiness … The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission.”
I believe that the key to understanding our new bishop is to
recognize his commitment to fulfilling St. John Paul’s call to the new evangelization, something we here at St. Mary’s have been seriously engaged in for the last four years.
Upon learning of his new appointment, Bishop Barres said to
the people of the Diocese of Allentown: “I must…thank the priests and the entire people of God of the Diocese of Allentown, where I have had the great blessing of serving as bishop for the last seven and-a-half years. You will all always be in my heart, my memories, my prayers and my Masses as I remember our days of ‘holiness and mission’ together.”
To the people of our diocese, Bishop Barres said: “As your
[new] Shepherd, as a successor of the Apostles, I am so honored and humbled to be able to lay my life down in your service. I so much look forward to being inspired by the holy and missionary priests, religious, deacons, seminarians and entire People of God of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.”
So, let us pray for Bishop-Designate Barres, as he prepares to lead us as our new shepherd, and for Bishop-Emeritus Murphy as he begins his retirement. And may God bless all the faithful of our Diocese of Rockville Centre as together we begin this new chapter of our journey of faith.