Faces of Faith: The Rev. Robert Barry
By Oriano Pagnucci Correspondent December 23, 2010 11:48AM
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Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
What does he do?
The Rev. Robert Barry is the campus minister at St. Xavier University, 10150 S. Central Park Ave., Chicago.
And since 1986, he has served as a chaplain in the Illinois National Guard.
Each summer Barry is called up to active duty and has been deployed to Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
For the past five summers, Barry has traveled to hospitals in Germany doing patient visitations and pastoral care with wounded soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“This is the most challenging and most difficult ministry I’ve ever done,” Barry said. “You really discover new levels and new kinds of prayer. The experience of ministering to wounded soldiers puts a lot of things in perspective. Things that were important in my personal life are not so important anymore.”
“These (wounded) soldiers showed me what real courage is,” he said. “There’s battlefield courage, and there’s the courage you see in a hospital when these soldiers try to restore their lives.”
How did he get into his job?
As a young boy and later as a teenager, Barry said he never expressed much interest in ministry.
“So when I was ordained (a Dominican priest) my parents were surprised and stunned,” he said. “I don’t think they expected it.”
Born and raised in St. Paul, Minn., Barry attended the Aquinas Institute School of Philosophy and Rosary College, both in River Forest.
“It was during my freshman year (in college) that a priest inspired me to enter ministry,” said Barry, who earned a double bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from Rosary College in 1970.
Three years later, he earned masters degrees in philosophy and theology from Aquinas Institute of Philosophy in Dubuque, Iowa. That same year he was ordained a Catholic priest.
Later on he received his doctorate in theology from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and subsequently taught or was in pastoral ministry at the University of Illinois in Champaign; Providence College in Providence, R.I., and at San Jose State University in California.
In 2003, he came to St. Xavier as a full-time campus minister at the school’s McDonough Chapel where he conducts liturgies, special services and leads worship.
What’s the best part of the job?
“The best part of the job is the response of the students to ministry. All of our programs are growing, and the students are responding energetically to the service programs, worship and education programs. Our problem is managing the growth,” he said.
What’s the worst part of the job?
“The worst part is the long hours. I’m 63, and I dream of a 9 to 5 job. Even more than that I dream of retirement. But that ain’t going to happen,” Barry said.
What does he do for fun?
“I love music, and I read,” said Barry, who lives at the St. Pius parish in Chicago’s Pilsen community.