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placeholder A note to our readers/
Official Portrait

Welcoming Bishop
Michael C. Barber, SJ

California a large
influence in Barber
family history

Journey to Oakland

Decree appointing
Bishop Barber

Your new bishop,
my brother, Michael,
'did time' at
San Quentin

Welcome to this
local church

Homily for the
ordination of the fifth
bishop of Oakland

Reflection: Lessons remembered, and
lived: Be merciful
and pure of heart

Getting around

'A ministry
of service,
of availability and
of vulnerability'

Bishop, and a
naval officer

A pair of
Navy chaplains

Bishop Barber's
photo album

A lifetime of
spiritual influences
formed Bishop
Barber's path

First classroom visit:
St. Agnes School,
fourth grade

Sister Mary Jude,
a teacher who made
a difference

A hello in their
native language

Why people
came out

Description of
Bishop Barber's
personal coat of arms, episcopal symbols

Parts of a bishop's
coat of arms

high school boys paths intersect
during careers

Bishops of the
Diocese of Oakland

Bishop selection
process is thorough,
strictly confidential

What the Church teaches about

New focus on
Jesuits' role within
the church

What the pope
is looking for
in new bishops

What you might
not know about
Bishop Barber

The bishop at the
cathedral, 2008

By the numbers:
Michael C. Barber, SJ

In This Issue:

Rev. John Paul

placeholder July 15, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA

Bishop Barber is using two crosiers. A modern one made of metal and adorned with oak leaves belongs to the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

Description of Bishop Barber's personal coat of arms,
episcopal symbols

In Roman Catholic Church tradition, each bishop has a different shield. This coat of arms is normally composed of:

• A sign of rank, placed over the shield, that is a version of an ecclesiastical hat that was worn in processions as late as 1870. The hat is low-crowned, flat and has a wide brim.

• A shield with its charges or symbols coming from family, geographic, religious and historical meanings.

• A golden processional cross "impaled" vertically behind the shield; a bishop has one cross piece, an archbishop two.

• The green hat is called a "galero," with 12 attached tassels, six tassels on each side. The color of the hat (cardinal's hats are red) and number of tassels indicate the cleric's place in the hierarchy.

• A scroll with the bishop's episcopal motto written below everything.

In Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ's, coat of arms, an oak tree is displayed on the left hand side of the shield to symbolize the see city of the diocese. The wavy red and white band beneath the tree represent water could be the recollection of a significant event — the celebration of the first Catholic Mass by the shores of Lake Merritt.

The right hand side of the shield represents Bishop Barber's life journey. On top is the seal of the Society of Jesus, which symbolizes the bishop's religious order and below that is an anchor for the Navy, of which the bishop is a commissioned officer. The anchor is also an ancient Christian symbol of hope.

Below the sign is the motto: Deus misericordiarum pater, a Latin phrase, God, the Father of mercies, taken from the first words of the formula of Absolution spoken by priests in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


Besides his coat of arms, Bishop Barber will have placed on the bottom of his stationery, "For the greater glory of God," the motto of his religious order, the Society of Jesus. It's often used in the Latin: Ad majorem Dei gloriam or abbreviated AMDG.


The ring symbolizes the relationship of the bishop and the Church, with the bishop as groom and the Church as the bride. At one time the ring contained the imprint of the bishop and was used to authenticate or seal documents. The popes originally wore a ring to connect their ministry with that of the first bishop of Rome, St. Peter the Apostle. Bishops today similarly wear a ring as a way to link their ministry with that of the apostles.

Bishop Barber first used a simple ring handed down from his father, Adlai Barber, who died in 1985. The bishop's brother, Stephen, had saved the modest red ring and gave it to him.

When the bishop took the ring to a jeweler to be cleaned, Bishop Barber related, the jeweler felt the ring wasn't worth working on. When the jeweler found out the ring was for a bishop, he offered to make a new ring.


Also known as the pastoral staff, the crosier takes its shape from a staff used by shepherds. Today it symbolizes the role of the bishop as the spiritual shepherd of the diocese. It is carried by bishops in processions and is held during certain parts of the liturgy when the bishop blesses an assembly of people.

Bishop Barber is using two crosiers. A modern one made of metal and adorned with oak leaves belongs to the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

An older crosier made of wood was found by the bishop's fellow Jesuits in the basement of their church in Santa Barbara and was given to him.

Interestingly, both the cathedral's new crosier and the older wooden one are in the traditional style of a shepherd's staff, with a large hook designed for grabbing errant sheep.

— The Criterion contributed to this report

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