Pope appoints new bishop to L.I. diocese

The Island Now

Pope Francis on Friday appointed Bishop John Barres to lead the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Barres, 56, will succeed Bishop William Murphy, who headed the diocese since 2001 and submitted his resignation in 2015.

Barres will serve as the fifth bishop in Rockville Centre when he assumes the role on Jan. 31 at an installation Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre.

He has served as  bishop in Allentown, Pennsylvania, since 2009.

“I must thank the priests and the entire people of God of the Diocese of Allentown, where I have had the great blessing of serving as bishop for the last seven and a half years,” Barres said. “You will all always be in my heart, my memories, my prayers and my Masses as I remember our days of ‘holiness and mission’ together.”

Barres, who was raised in Westchester and graduated from Princeton University with an English literature degree, was ordained a bishop in 2009, according to the diocese’s website.

At Princeton, Barres played three years of junior varsity basketball, according to the school’s basketball archives.

Barres earned an an MBA from New York University after graduating from Princeton, and then earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and Licentiate of Sacred Theology in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America, according to his Allentown Diocese biography.

He also earned a Licentiate of Canon Law and Sacred Theology doctoral degree from the Pontifical University of Holy Cross in Rome.

In 2000, his biography shows, Pope John Paul II named him a “Chaplain to His Holiness,” and Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 named him a “Prelate of Honor,” two of the highest designations in the church.

Barres’ parents were Protestant ministers who met at Yale Divinity School and later converted to Catholicism, according to his Allentown Diocese biography. 

Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington in 1989, and began his priesthood as an associate pastor at churches in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware, according to the site.

Barres said in a statement he’s looking forward to returning to New York and remembers visiting Jones Beach when he was young.

“While growing up in Larchmont on the other side of the Long Island Sound, I had a clear vision across the Sound of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, never knowing that God’s vision and providence would one day bring us together,” he said.

After being appointed by Francis, Barres said in his statement, he “will be dedicated to supporting the global mission of mercy of our Holy Father Pope Francis, a mission that is in harmonious continuity with the mission of all the Holy Fathers I have loved.”

By Stephen Romano

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