Pope Francis Selects GU Alumnus Rev. Michael Barber as Fifth Bishop of Oakland

Michael Barber

May 15, 2013

Photo courtesy of Diocese of Oakland 

Spokane News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis announced the selection of Gonzaga University alumnus Rev. Michael Barber, S.J. to become the fifth Bishop of Oakland, Calif. Bishop-elect Barber will be ordained to the episcopate and installed as bishop on May 25 at 11 a.m. in the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland. Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Alex J. Brunett will continue to lead the diocese until that date.

Rev. Barber has deep roots in the East Bay area of California. His father, Adlai Barber, was born in Oakland and his mother, Dolores, in San Francisco. Rev. Barber himself was born in 1954 in Salt Lake City during a temporary job assignment for his father. As a child, the bishop-elect lived in San Francisco, Novato and Sacramento, graduating from St. Pius X Preparatory School in Galt, Calif. He has fond memories of holidays spent with relatives in Oakland, San Leandro and Castro Valley, and of teaching at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park.

Rev. Barber entered the seminary of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1973. He received his undergraduate degree in 1978 (history and philosophy) from Gonzaga and earned graduate degrees in theology from Regis College at the University of Toronto and the Gregorian University in Rome. He served as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, England in 1992-93. He also taught at Gonzaga Preparatory School in 1977-78.

After being ordained a priest in San Francisco in 1985, Rev. Barber continued his studies in Rome and at Oxford University. In 1991 he became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve and achieved the rank of captain in 2012. He has served as group chaplain for the Marine Aircraft Group, as deputy division chaplain for the 4th Marine Division and deputy force chaplain for reserve affairs for Marine Forces Pacific, among many other assignments.

Rev. Barber has been director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. From 2002-10 he taught at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif., and was director of spiritual formation there. Presently he is director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston.

In addition to his native English, the bishop-elect speaks Italian, French, Samoan and liturgical Spanish.