Rev. Michael Charles Barber, 58, a Jesuit priest named by Pope Francis to serve as Oakland’s fifth bishop, has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The bishop-elect’s father, Adlai, was born in Oakland and his mother, Dolores, in San Francisco. Oakland’s new bishop, however, was born in Salt Lake City, where his parents lived during a temporary job assignment of his father. Bishop-elect Barber lived in San Francisco, Novato and Sacramento during his childhood, and has many fond memories of holidays spent with relatives in Oakland, San Leandro and Castro Valley.
He was graduated from St. Pius X Preparatory School in Galt, south of Sacramento, and joined the Society of Jesus — the Jesuits — in 1973. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy from Gonzaga University in Washington state. He also studied at Regis College at the University of Toronto and Gregorian University in Rome, where he received an ecclesiastical license in dogmatic theology. He was also a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford in England.
Bishop-elect Barber has been a teacher at schools in Spokane, Los Angeles and in the Caroline Islands, Micronesia. From 2004-2010, he served as a ministerial volunteer at San Quentin Prison.
He has also been a member of the United States Navy Reserve since 1991. He was promoted to captain in October 2012 and has served in many assignments, currently as deputy force chaplain for reserve affairs, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, at Camp Smith, Hawaii. He has also served as command chaplain at Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and on two aircraft carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the John C. Stennis. Locally, he was reserve chaplain for Marine Expeditionary Force 220 in Alameda, and chaplain for the 23rd Marine Regiment, Fourth Marine Division, San Bruno.
In the Bay Area, the bishop-elect was director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. From 2003-2010 he taught at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and was director of spiritual formation there.
At the time of his appointment, Bishop-elect Barber had been serving as director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston.
He is a magistral chaplain of the Order of Malta and a knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
In addition to English, he speaks Italian, French, Samoan and liturgical Spanish.
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