The organizers of the the Boston Catholic Men’s and Women’s Conferences a couple of weeks ago handed out newly created awards: Catholic Layman of the Year, Laywoman of the Year, Religious Sister of the Year, Priest/Deacon of the Year, and Religious Man of the Year.
The Priest of the Year award recipient was Fr. David Barnes, who was profiled in my local newspaper. Fr. Barnes was the youngest pastor in the archdiocese when appointed to lead St. Mary Star of the Sea parish in neighboring Beverly, Mass., and at 35 years old is still the youngest. He inherited a parish with some problems, a few of them financial including a $748,000 debt left by the previous pastor. That might have been the easiest problem he faced since the solution was to sell a $2 million piece of property the parish had owned. (Of course, I use “easy” advisedly since as anyone who works with dioceses knows selling off parish property is long and complex process.)
His other accomplishments are even more impressive.
Since Barnes took over, weekly collections have gone from an average of $6,000 to $9,200, according to Augulewicz. She said Barnes has brought back such traditions as the annual 40-hour Devotion to the Eucharist and the Corpus Christi Procession. The downtown church, which was built in 1898, is also undergoing $300,000 in improvements, including the painting of its majestic upper church.
Fr. Barnes was ordained in 1997 and has been at St. Mary’s since 2000, when he was a parochial vicar for four years before being made pastor. I met him in those early years and was impressed with his orthodoxy, vitality, and zeal for the priesthood, traits shared by almost every priest I’ve met in the archdiocese who’s been ordained in the past ten years or so.
As for the renovation of his church, you can get a glimpse in a photo posted over at Catholic Light. No “wreckovation” there, I’m happy to see.
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