A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend my first Los Angeles Archdiocese Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California. My friend Richard and I drove from Los Angeles, Saturday morning, arriving about 15 minutes before the Keynote speaker of that day which happened to be, Chicago priest, Father Robert Barron. I can’t remember how I originally learned about Father Barron, but I’ve watched many of his youtube videos, listen to his weekly homilies on his website wordonfire.org, I bought, watched and re-watched several times his beautiful DVD series, Catholicism. So naturally, I was looking forward to seeing him live.
Just outside the arena area we stopped so Richard could put some pamphlets and flyers he had collected along the way in his briefcase. I was so excited to be there around others who share our wonderful catholic faith, excited about the speakers and what they have to share. And also, I’m a confirmation catechist in my parish so I was excited about what I will learn and share with my students. So basically, my energy was really flowing at that moment.
The walkway where we had stopped was completely empty. Everyone was in the arena awaiting Father Barron. As Richard was bent over his briefcase, I was scanning the area and lo and behold, who is walking in our direction but Father Robert Barron. He was about thirty feet away from us and closing in fast. Well, me being me, with outstretched arm pointing directly at Father Barron I said at the top of my voice, “there’s the man!” When I said this, I could see Father Barron was momentarily visibly startled. His eyes seemed to widen and he looked like he was thinking, do I know this goofball? And if not, is he a dangerous wacko? As he approached, I, with a big smile, introduced myself and Richard to Father Barron and also took a few photos with him as well. He could not have been more gracious and personable taking the time without seeming rushed, literally, right before he was to walk on stage.
A short time after the convention, in bible study at my parish, I referenced Father Barron. So naturally I began, “well, according to my best buddy Father Bobby Barron…” Yes, in that 90 second convention hallway encounter we became fast friends, at least in my mind anyway. Now that he has become Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, now when I reference him I can say, “according to my best buddy Bishop Bobby Barron…” Say that three times fast.
Anyway, I would like to offer my belated congratulations and welcome to the Los Angeles Archdiocese to Bishop Robert Barron as well as our two other new Auxiliary Bishops, Bishop Joseph Brennan and Bishop David O’Connell. May God bless them, help them to always walk in the light of God’s Love and protect them from evil.
Hopefully during our brief encounter, Bishop Barron learned that I might be a goofball but not a dangerous wacko.