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"I would like to do for Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole church."
Jesuit Becomes Fifth Bishop of Oakland, Says He’s Inspired by Pope’s Vision of Church

May 31, 2013 — 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.


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