New York News

Rockville Centre Welcomes Newly Appointed Bishop

Bishop William Murphy, the retiring Bishop of Rockville Centre, introduces his newly appointed successor, Bishop John Barres, at a press conference in Rockville Centre. (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)
Bishop William Murphy, the retiring Bishop of Rockville Centre, introduces his newly appointed successor, Bishop John Barres, at a press conference in Rockville Centre. (Photos: Ed Wilkinson)

Bishop John Barres to Be Installed Jan. 31

It took longer than expected but the Vatican has appointed the new Bishop of Rockville Centre.

He is Bishop John O. Barres, who for the past seven and a half years has been the Bishop of Allentown, Pa. He succeeds Bishop William Murphy, who submitted his resignation as required by age more than a year ago.

The two bishops appeared at a joint press conference Dec. 9, only hours after the announcement was made by the Apostolic Nuncio’s office in Washington, D.C.

Rockville Center’s newly named Bishop John Barres addressed the media shortly after his appointment was announced Dec. 9.

“I look forward to serving each one of you, each one of our ecumenical and interreligious brothers and sisters, and every single person who lives in the Diocese of Rockville Centre,” said Bishop Barres. “I am looking forward to experiencing and celebrating with you the rich cultural diversity of the diocese.”

Having grown up in Larchmont “on the other side of the Long Island Sound, I had a clear vision as a boy of Long Island never knowing that God’s vision and providence would one day bring us together.”

Bishop Barres, a sports enthusiast, recalled as a youngster playing CYO basketball and traveling to Long Island to watch Dr. J – Julius Erving – play for the New York Nets.

He recalled his parents packing up the family in their blue Ford Galaxie and driving to Jones Beach for a day at the ocean.

The bishop played JV basketball at Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. for three years. In his senior year, he approached legendary coach Pete Carrill and asked if he had a shot at the varsity.

When he was told he had no chance, he moved to the broadcast booth to do the games on radio.

‘Proven Church Leader’

Bishop Murphy said it was a “joy and privilege” to introduce the new bishop.

He described him as “a priest and bishop who is a proven Church leader, a holy and humble priest and a bishop who has come to serve all the People of God of this diocese and to go out to the peripheries as our Holy Father Pope Francis has shown us in these three years of his pontificate.”

Bishop Barres said that his first priority will be to listen “contemplatively” to the people of Long Island so that he will become aware of their pastoral needs.

“In our social media driven world, we all need to listen better,” he said.

He expressed a special interest in getting to know the young people of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“I am ecstatic about your futures in Jesus Christ and the way you, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘shake up the Church and the world,’ with your enthusiasm and desire to dedicate your lives to Jesus and the mission of the Catholic Church in the world.”

At the press conference were students from St. Agnes School, Rockville Centre. Prior to addressing the media, he shook hands with each student and asked each one about his or her favorite pastime.

In taking over the spiritual reins of Rockville Centre, Bishop Barres, whose episcopal motto is “Holiness and Mission,” inherits a diocese that is six times the population of his previous home.

Bishop John Barres, the new bishop of Rockville Centre, greets women following a press conference at St. Agnes Cathedral parish in Rockville Centre.

A Bishop Sheen Baptism

Bishop Barres is 56 years old and was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, while his father was working for the bishop at the Propagation of the Faith in Manhattan.

Both his parents were ordained Congregational ministers who had a small rural parish in East Windsor, Conn. They eventually converted to Catholicism and his father wrote about that conversion in a book titled “One Shepherd, One Flock,’ published by Sheed and Ward.

Bishop Barres who holds an MBA from the NYU Graduate School of Business Administration, studied his theology at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and later earned a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

He was ordained a priest of the Wilmington Diocese in Delaware on Oct. 21, 1989 by Bishop Robert Mulvee.

He was a parish priest in Newark and Wilmington, both Delaware, and also served as vice chancellor of Wilmington.

He was ordained to the episcopacy by Cardinal Justin Rigali at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Siena, Allentown, on July 30, 2009. He was the first priest ordained a bishop within the Diocese of Allentown.

Visit to Queens

Asked at the press conference about his recent visit to the Diocese of Brooklyn, he said he was at Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center in Douglaston to spend a day of prayer with priest friends. While there, he visited the crypt chapel where the first five bishops of Brooklyn are interred.

He said that being in the crypt and praying before the tombs of the bishops gave him a great sense of history and the fact that “our faith is built on the shoulders of giants.”

In an interview with NET-TV’s Currents, Bishop Barres said that he was looking forward to a great relationship with the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“Bishop Nick DiMarzio is a personal friend of mine,” he said. “I always admire his wonderful sense of the history of immigration and refugees. He has a beautiful sense of the dignity of human life, and the dignity of the human person.

“He’s been a great support to me personally. He’s kind of the go-to guy for me for a beautiful approach to immigration.”

Bishop Barres will be installed as the fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m. in St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre.

Until then, Bishop Murphy will continue as the apostolic administrator of the diocese.