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A Chicago priest who has specialized in new media and big film productions to share the faith with the masses will now have Hollywood as his backyard.
Pope Francis has named Father Robert Barron, who has made a name for himself by producing high-quality television series about the Catholic faith, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Pope appointed two other priests auxiliary bishops in Los Angeles as well: Msgr. David O’Connell and Msgr. Joseph Brennan, both LA priests.
Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez was to introduce the new bishops Tuesday morning at a press conference in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It will be live streamed at http://archla.org/live.
“I think it is clear that in appointing these new auxiliary bishops, Pope Francis really understands what the Church needs—not just here in Los Angeles, but also in the United States and across the Americas,” Archbishop Gomez in a statement. “I believe each of these new auxiliary bishops will help us in our mission here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles—the beautiful mission we have of sharing the love of God and the message of Jesus Christ and promoting human dignity and mercy and justice in our society.”
In a statement, Bishop-elect Barron, 55, called the Archdiocese of Los Angeles "energetic, diverse, and creative."
"Over the years, I’ve visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim," he said.
He also called the late Cardinal Francis George the "spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire" and a "mentor and friend to me."
"The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc.," Bishop-elect Barron said. "I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time."
The bishop-elect said that Word on Fire will continue producing articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.
Bishop-elect Barron is the founder of Word on Fire, a ministry that uses new media to "draw people into or back to the Catholic Faith," according to its website. The ministry came to the fore in 2011, with a stunning production called "Catholicism," which took the view through the history of the Church in a series of 10 one-hour programs. The series aired on hundreds of PBS stations, reminding some viewers of the 1970s series "Civilization." It was, in fact, Sir Kenneth Clark’s BBC series that inspired Bishop Barron to produce "Catholicism," he has said.
Since then, Bishop-Elect Barron and Word on Fire also released the follow-up documentary "Catholicism: The New Evangelization" (2013) and are wrapping up "Catholicsm: The Pivotal Players," a series on the mystics, scholars, artists, and saints who shaped the Church and changed the world. The series is set to debut in Fall 2016.
Bishop-Elect Barron’s website, WordOnFire.org, hosts daily blog posts, weekly articles and video commentaries, and an extensive audio archive of over 500 homilies. Bishop-Elect Barron’s homilies are heard by tens of thousands of visitors each week. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 13 million times, and over 250,000 people receive his daily email reflections during Lent and Advent.
Bishop-Elect Barron, who has written for Aleteia, has also produced over 400 online video commentaries. His weekly, high-quality productions include brief and lively theological reviews of contemporary culture, including movies, books, music, current events, and more.
EWTN (The Eternal Word Television Network) and CatholicTV broadcast Bishop-Elect Barron’s videos and documentaries to a worldwide audience of over 150 million people. His weekly Word on Fire radio program has been broadcast in Chicago (WGN) and throughout the country (Relevant Radio – 950 AM Chicago) to over 30 million listeners.
Bishop-Elect Barron works with NBC News in New York as an on-air contributor and analyst. He is also a frequent commentator for the Chicago Tribune, FOX News, CNN, EWTN, Our Sunday Visitor, the Catholic Herald in London, and Catholic News Agency.
He is an Amazon bestselling author and has published twelve books, including Exploring Catholic Theology: Essays on God, Liturgy, and Evangelization (Baker, 2015), Seeds of the Word: Finding God in the Culture (Word on Fire, 2015), Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (Image, 2011), Word On Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ (Crossroad, 2008), The Priority of Christ: Toward a Post-Liberal Catholicism (Brazos, 2007), Bridging the Great Divide: Musings of a Post-Liberal, Post-Conservative, Evangelical Catholic (Sheed & Ward, 2004), and Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals (Crossroad, 2000).
He has served as the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary University of St. Mary of the Lake since 2012. He was twice scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican.
Ordained in 1986 in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Bishop-Elect Barron received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America in 1982 and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris in 1992.