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, De Sales Theological Center
Parochial Vicar: Immaculate Conception - Wilmington, NC
Pastor: Immaculate Conception - Wilmington, NC, St. Ann - Naples, FL
Director of Province Administration: Wilmington/Philadelphia Province
General Councilor of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales
Assistant Superior General
Superior General of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (Rome, Italy)
Where did you first encounter the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales?
I usually say I first met the Oblates at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia. There were so many Oblates in the school when I was a student (1969-1973). But, truth be told, the very first Oblate I met, without knowing what an Oblate was, was Fr. Tom Hagan. He occasionally came to St. Bernard parish for Sunday liturgies when I was in grade school. We loved him because he was personable and engaging. Actually he was too personable and engaging for the pastor. When people started phoning the rectory to find out when the “Oblate Mass” was, we started seeing less of him!
What experience of the Oblates led you to join the community?
It was my high school experience of the Oblates at Father Judge. They took interest in us students personally and were dedicated to the ministry of education in which they were engaged. Moreover, they seemed to enjoy life together. It was my first experience of the possibility of being both religious and priest, as well as an educator. What was most convincing, however, was that several Oblates invited me personally to consider joining them in my senior year.
In your experience, what makes the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales distinct?
In my experience what makes Oblates distinct is a unique quality of approachability and simplicity of spirit. This allows people to connect with us more easily and to share their lives with us more openly.
In ten words or less, how would you sum up Salesian spirituality?
Living Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Why should someone consider becoming an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales today?
Because the People of God need us and need more of us! Being an Oblate is an expansive life-giving experience of service to God and to the church based on the solid spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, the church-recognized Doctor of Love. Our religious institute is a group of priests and brothers that is found around the world on different continents, promoting Salesian spirituality in different languages and cultures.
Who is your favorite historical figure? Why do you admire him/her?
My favorite? I have several in different categories. But if I had to pick one, it might be Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). He introduced me to an intriguing way of living life. A poet at heart, he wrote: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
What are some of your interests/hobbies?
I am fascinated by the sound and study of modern languages (especially the languages Oblates speak) and being able to converse in them (with as little an accent as possible)! I had great Oblate teachers who helped me recognize this talent early on in high school and college—Fathers Tom Fitzpatrick, John Spellman, Jim Byrne, Ed Conlin, Gerry Clarke, and Joe Zuschmidt. To them I am very grateful. My late mother, however, attributed this knack to her own mother. My grandmother could not read sheet music, but she could hear a piece of music somewhere and come home and reproduce it on the piano. I love hearing the music of a language and trying to reproduce it in my own voice.