On May 25th 2013, Most Rev. Michael Barber was installed as 5th Bishop of Oakland. The episcopal ordination took place at the Cathedral Christ the Ligth. The mass was celebrated by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice
In a joyful celebration that incorporated the many gifts of the diverse communities that make up the Diocese of Oakland, the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, was ordained and installed as the fifth bishop of Oakland on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
The Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco, was the principal consecrator of Bishop Barber, who succeeds him in Oakland. Co—consecrators were the Most Rev. Carlos Sevilla, SJ, bishop emeritus of Yakima, Washington, and the Most Rev. Thomas Daly, auxiliary bishop of San Jose.
Among the bishops present were the Most Rev. John S. Cummins, the second bishop of Oakland, and the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron, the third bishop of Oakland who is now the archbishop of Detroit.
With his brother, the Rev. Stephen Barber, SJ, at his side, and his brother, Kevin Barber, serving as lector, Bishop Barber, 58, became the first Jesuit to be seated as bishop of Oakland. He is also the first priest to be named bishop of Oakland. All previous bishops had previously been ordained bishops.
During his remarks, Archbishop Cordileone told the new bishop that he could count on the support of his brother bishops.
The Mass included contributions from a prelude by songs of praise and worship from the Voices of St. Benedict gospel choir; a spirited call to worship to the drumbeat of a kebero from the Eritrean Catholics of the Ge’ez Rite; a reading in Vietnamese; and a responsorial psalm in Spanish.
The cathedral, which was dedicated almost five years ago, was filled to its 1,350—seat capacity. An additional 300 chairs were placed on the Cathedral Plaza for those unable to be seated inside to watch the proceedings. The broadcast was narrated by the Rev. Mark Wiesner, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Livermore. It is available at www.ustream.tv/channel/diocese-of-oakland.
During the rite, in which chrism was poured on his head and hands to anoint him, Bishop Barber received the ring, mitre and crozier before being invited to occupy the Cathedra, the Bishop’s seat in the cathedral. The chrism, which had been consecrated by the Most Rev. Alex J. Brunett, apostolic administrator of the diocese, had been made from oil from olive trees on the grounds of the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose.
At the end of the Mass, the new bishop moved through the aisle of the soaring glass—and—concrete cathedral, blessing the people, and receiving applause.
“People have asked me, ‘what is your vision as bishop?’” he said as he made remarks from the ambo. “I would like to do for Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole church.”
He was interrupted by applause.
“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 thanked the apostolic nuncio and his consecrators, and Archbishop Brunett, the retired archbishop of Seattle who served as Oakland’s apostolic administrator for eight months. “Everyone I have spoken to hates to see you go,” he said. “You will go down in the history of Oakland not as the apostolic administrator, but as the beloved apostolic administrator.”
The new bishop thanked three people “here today who have played an important role in my life.” He thanked the Most Rev. John Rafael Quinn, archbishop emeritus of San Francisco, who ordained him to the priesthood in 1985.
“The priest who baptized me as a baby at Mission Dolores Church back in 19—hundred—and,” he said, running his hand across his mouth to playfully obscure the date, “He’s here today. Father John Cummins, the second bishop of Oakland.”
The acknowledgement of Bishop Cummins gave the gathering the opportunity to stand and applaud the bishop emeritus, who served from 1977 to 2003.
“Thirdly, the Dominican sister who taught me in the eighth grade,” he said. “You may not realize it but this sister has taught every person in the Diocese of Oakland because she taught me the faith, and I will hand it on to you. In honoring her, I honor all consecrated religious women, all teachers and all catechists in our diocese. Thank you, Sister Mary Jude.”
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 addressed the issue of what he is going to do about the diocesan debt, which stands at $114.7 million. “I don’t know yet,” he said, “but I do know this: If we are generous to responding to God and taking care of his people, God will take care of us.”
“In 58 years of life, it never entered my mind that I would be bishop of Oakland, until three weeks ago,” he said. 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.”
The bishop left the cathedral, greeted by applause as he moved through the congregation, blessing the people, to the “Navy Hymn,” in tribute to his service as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
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