Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, and appointed as his successor Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., who was born in Larchmont.
Bishop Barres, 56, has headed the Diocese of Allentown since 2009. Bishop Murphy, who has been Rockville Centre’s bishop since 2001, is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope when they turn 75.
The changes were announced Dec. 9 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Barres’ Mass of installation will be celebrated at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre on Jan. 31. Until then, Bishop Murphy will serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese, which spans Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.
“It is my deep conviction that he will be a bishop for all of us without exception,” Bishop Murphy said of his successor in a statement. “He has shared with me his love of youth and his care for the elderly. He has a keen sense of parish life and has a special expertise in education. He has a deep love for the poor.”
Cardinal Dolan, in a statement, cited Bishop Barres’ roots in Larchmont, where his family worshipped at St. Augustine parish.
“It is a joy to welcome Bishop John Barres ‘back home’ to New York, as Pope Francis has appointed him to become the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Born in the Archdiocese of New York, and baptized by the then-Auxiliary Bishop of New York, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Bishop Barres’ New York roots run deep. His pastoral experience, first as a priest in the Diocese of Wilmington, and since 2009 as Bishop of Allentown, will serve him well as he undertakes this new challenge of ministry and service to God’s people on Long Island. I look forward to many years of working closely together with him.
“At the same time, I offer my prayerful best wishes and gratitude to Bishop William Murphy, who has been a faithful shepherd, trusted collaborator, and good friend for many years,” the cardinal wrote. “I know that even though he is retiring from his administrative responsibilities, he will continue to live out his priesthood in new ways.”
The newly named Rockville Centre bishop was introduced to the diocese during an early morning Mass the day of his appointment that he concelebrated with Bishop Murphy at St. Agnes Cathedral.
“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,” Bishop Barres said in a statement. “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.”
Bishop Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 21, 1989. On May 27, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Allentown. He was installed as that diocese’s fourth bishop on July 30, 2009.
In Allentown, he initiated a pastoral planning process for parishes across the diocese. He has called on every parish to establish a parish council and has made support for Catholic schools a priority; enhanced evangelization and pastoral ministries; and encouraged use of social media to spread the Gospel and evangelize.
On the national level, he is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and is the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the Pontifical Mission Societies.
He has a bachelor of sacred theology and a licentiate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington; he received his seminary formation at the university’s Theological College.
He has a licentiate in canon law and a doctor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He has a bachelor of art’s degree in English literature from Princeton University, where he played on the junior varsity basketball team, and a master’s in business administration, focusing on management, from New York University’s School of Business Administration.
After his priestly ordination, he had assignments as associate pastor at two Delaware parishes, and then went to Rome for further studies. After his return to the Wilmington Diocese in 1999, he served as vice chancellor and then chancellor.
A native of Boston, Bishop Murphy was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1964, and he was named a Boston auxiliary bishop in 1995. St. John Paul II appointed him to Rockville Centre June 26, 2001.—CNS