San Bernardino bishop: “A year before I was to be ordained a priest, I was kicked out”

Bishop Gerald Barnes recounts his difficult road to priestly ordination: "In the Church at that time, you didn’t question authority so I was seen as kind of a rebel"

Bishop Gerald Barnes celebrated his 25th Episcopal Anniversary on October 14. (image from Inland Catholic Byte)

Hundreds of youth from across the Diocese enthusiastically gathered at St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace on October 14 to celebrate Bishop Gerald Barnes’ 25th Episcopal Anniversary. 

Youth and young adult Catholics bonded with each other through prayer, music and worship and also participated in several activities throughout the day, including a game of Seminarian Bingo where youth asked Diocesan seminarians questions in order to win points.  The event was themed on Bishop Barnes’ episcopal motto, Amar Es Entregarse (“Love is the total giving of one’s self”). 

Also among the festivities was a unique opportunity to learn more about Bishop Barnes, personally and spiritually, through two highlights of the event – “Bishop Barnes’ Walk with Jesus” and a question and answer session. The youth listened intently as Bishop Barnes described his journey to becoming a priest and a bishop. 

“I was living in a very difficult time when I was your age. High school, early college was a very, very difficult time in this country. We have our difficulties today. It was kind of bad back then. People were afraid, there was stress because of the threat of nuclear war. There was a lot of upheaval in society. It was difficult to trust other people. People were living in fear and in that setting, I, in some way, heard God calling. 

“I was living in an extremely difficult time in this country. And the Church was going through a lot of changes. Big changes were taking place in society and I was a teenager and I became a young adult during those years. And in some way, in that chaos, in that renewal, I heard God call me. In some way, I needed to do something. Other people hear that call in the deep sense of a prayerful retreat. Some hear it in music. Some hear it in a friend. The Lord calls in so many different ways. My calling came basically because of how we were living in society and I felt God was calling me to do something. To bring His word of hope, to bring His word that all people were loved, to bring His word of peace, His word of respect.”

So he applied to the seminary. He said that he wasn’t accepted that first time and realized that his relationship with God needed to be deepened even more. 

“In every good and deep relationship, there are times of testing,” said Bishop Barnes. 

He made other plans to study education and graduate from college but said he knew that his calling to the priesthood still remained. So he applied to the seminary a second time and was accepted. 

“But, the testing wasn’t over. I went to seminary, had to leave California. Went to the Midwest and then Ohio and a year before I was to be ordained a priest, I was kicked out. What do I do then? The testing continued,” he said. 

Those who knew him tried to comfort him but he said that his relationship with God grew even stronger from that point on because he felt that God understood his circumstances. 

“See, I have a problem, and I still have it today; I ask questions,” Bishop Barnes said. “Sometimes when you ask people questions who are in authority, the person, whether a family member, in government, in education, sometimes they interpret that as being disrespectful. In the Church at that time, you didn’t question authority so I was seen as kind of a rebel. But my relationship with God got stronger because I kept questioning him,” he explained. 

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.

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  1. You know, so often people who revel in being the “rebels” who “challenge” authority and ask “tough” questions of “powerful people” don’t like having any difficult questions asked of themselves nor about what they are doing.

  2. The horror! Bishop Barnes is drinking out of a plastic water bottle. How very un-Laudato Si of him. And those balloons in the background? Those aren’t environmentally correct either.

  3. Anonymous 2 says:

    Bishop Barnes, unconsciously, actually epitomizes the problem in the Catholic Church today.

    Again and again, one encounters those who, today, often are in a position of authority, now demanding obedience to authority, a fairly hypocritical position considering their own history—-in this case, evidenced the Good Bishop’s own admission.

    This is also a paralyzing problem rife in the religious orders, especially the perhaps two key ones, the Dominicans (ever heard of Timothy Radcliffe?) and of course, the Least Society of Jesus (Hi there, Frs Stephen Privett and Thomas Reese!)

  4. Reconstructed malarkey.

  5. Why was he kicked out of the seminary? What were the questions he asked that he is so proud of? Did anyone ask HIM that question? Curious minds want to know.

  6. Amid the toil and strife Barnes endured in his misty water-colored memories (real or imagined), he conveniently neglects to mention Draft Dodging. Hmm.

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