Most Rev. Barry R. Strong, OSFS
August 15, 1976
June 26, 1982
September 8, 1984
Faculty / Dean of Students, De Sales School of Theology; Formation Person, Bishop Ireton High School; Parochial Vicar, Immaculate Conception; Pastor, Immaculate Conception, St. Ann; Director of Province Administration; Assistant Superior General. General Councilor of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales – Assistant General; Director of Province Administration, Wilmington/Philadelphia Province
Pope Francis has called for a jubilee Year of Mercy. How do you experience the mercy of God in your life?
I experience God’s mercy as God’s own covenant of unmerited and extraordinary kindness and compassion in my regard. This, in turn, challenges me at my core to be a channel of the same to others.
With many experience of violence in the world and in our country, what is one way that you see Salesian gentleness as a healing agent?
Francis de Sales taught a spirituality of peace. He fostered resilience in the face of despair and continuous openness to hope. For him, God is the divine lover who cares for us and is deeply present to us even in the midst of violence not willed by him.
What is the most recent book you read? Who was the author, and what did you think of it?
The Priest and the Iman (title translated). It’s a dialogue between a friend of mine, Fr. Christophe Roucou (outgoing director of the French Episcopal Conference’s office for relations with Islam), and a friend of his, Imam Tareq Oubrou. In the midst of so much misunderstanding around Islam in today’s world, it’s fascinating to hear how two persons of different faiths can enter into dialogue around it.
What is the most challenging dimension of Salesian Spirituality for you?
Paying attention to the present moment and the deep peace it can bring.
If you were pope, what would be one decision you would make to impact church in a life-giving way?
To change the tone of how we speak and teach in our church pronouncements. Too often, further alientation of others is the by-product. The Salesian approach could work wonders here.
What gives you joy as an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales?
Seeing the impace the simple sharing of our spirituality and approach to life can have on others in their own lives.
If someone were to write a biography of your life, what title would you give it?
Living the Questions.
Which person taught you a lesson that is especially valuable to you? What was the lesson?
Dr. Robert Wicks introduced me to the spititual wisdom of taking the time to live and love life’s questions (a reference to a love from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke) rather than forcing the answers.