For a Bishop, Episcopal service extends beyond the borders of his Diocese.
That was certainly the case in Bishop Barnes’ 28 years as a Bishop in the Diocese of San Bernardino. As a member of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops (CCC) and the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he served on numerous committees addressing a wide range of issues from lay ministry to ecumenical affairs to migration.
One of his highest profile assignments was a three-year term as the Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration and Refugee Services. His leadership of that committee came at a time of intense advocacy by the Church to federal lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He traveled multiple times to Capitol Hill to meet with such lawmakers as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and Congressman John Boehner, who would later become Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Bishop Barnes was also a pioneering leader at the national level in Hispanic Affairs Ministry. He served as Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Hispanic Affairs (1997-99). During that time, he led the committee to plan and propose the fourth National Encuentro.
Encuentro is a two-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and pastoral discernment in parishes, dioceses and episcopal regions that culminates with a national event. Its primary outcome is to discern pastoral practices and priorities to impact the quality of ministry among Hispanic/Latino Catholics, under the leadership of the U.S. bishops.
“I initiated the process through the committee and then had to bring it to the body of bishops,” Bishop Barnes recalled of the birth of what became Encuentro 2000. “[They] listened to the rationale for this Encuentro and voted to support it.”
A decade later, when Bishop Barnes began his term as the Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, the idea of a Fifth National Encuentro surfaced. Once again, he played a key role in its planning and approval by the body of bishops. When the V Encuentro began in 2017 Bishop Barnes was tabbed to serve as liaison and lead bishop for Region XI (California, Nevada, Hawaii).
Other USCCB committees of which he was a member were: Pastoral Practices, Personnel, Home Missions, Lay Ministry, The Church in Latin America, African American Catholics, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, The Church in Africa, Communications, International Policy and Cultural Diversity in the Church.
At the state level, Bishop Barnes served on CCC’s Ad Hoc Health Committee, Racism Taskforce, Environmental Stewardship Committee and the Alta-Baja Bishops Group, which consists of bishops from dioceses just north and south of the U.S.-Mexico border.