Fr. Michael Barber, S.J., 58, a member of the California Province of the Society of Jesus and director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., has been named Bishop of Oakland.
The appointment was announced Friday by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“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,” said Fr. Michael F. Weiler, S.J., Provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus. “We promise our brother Fr. Michael Barber our full support and continued affection as he continues to minister to the people of God in this new mission.”
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 in history/philosophy from Gonzaga University; 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).
“I offer my congratulations and prayers to Bishop-elect Barber. As fellow Sacramentans, we have known one another for many years,” said Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, S.J., 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 succeeds Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who was named head of the San Francisco Archdiocese on July 27. The Oakland Diocese has 2,586,396 people, with 399,546, or 15 percent of them, Catholic.