St. Agnes parish in Manhattan will operate under the auspices of Opus Dei as of July 1, the archdiocese has announced.
The Prelature of Opus Dei has accepted Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to assume responsibility for the pastoral care and administration of St. Agnes, parishioners learned at Masses celebrated there on Memorial Day weekend.
Opus Dei is an international Catholic organization, a personal prelature that seeks to help people come closer to God in their work and daily activities.
“I warmly welcome the Prelature of Opus Dei as a partner in serving the people of God of this archdiocese,” Cardinal Dolan said in a statement. “The parishioners of St. Agnes, I am sure, will quickly come to know and appreciate their apostolic zeal in preaching the Gospel, and serving the religious and sacramental needs of the people entrusted to their care.”
Msgr. Thomas G. Bohlin, the U.S. vicar of Opus Dei, said, “We are grateful that the cardinal has asked us to carry out this pastoral work, and we look forward to serving the faithful of the parish of St. Agnes and the Archdiocese of New York.”
The national offices of Opus Dei are in Manhattan, at 34th Street and Lexington Avenue. Opus Dei opened its first center in New York City in 1964, through the authorization of Cardinal Francis Spellman.
Members of Opus Dei, along with others, run Rosedale Achievement Center (for girls) and Crotona Achievement Center (for boys), two educational programs for youth in the Bronx.
Located at 143 E. 43rd St., St. Agnes serves the area around Grand Central Terminal.
Father Michael J. Barrett, 63, a native New Yorker, has been named pastor of St. Agnes, also beginning July 1.
He will be joined by other Opus Dei priests who will offer Mass and the sacraments to parishioners who include, in addition to the residents of the area, those who work in the area as well as many commuters who use Grand Central as their transportation hub each day. As pastor, Father Barrett will also be responsible for the temporal administration of the parish.
Father Myles Murphy, who has served as pastor of St. Agnes since 2011, has been appointed pastor of Our Lady of Victory and St. Andrew parish in lower Manhattan, also effective July 1. Father Murphy will succeed Msgr. Marc Filacchione, who is completing his 12-year term as pastor there.
Father Barrett grew up in St. Barnabas parish in the Bronx. (His brother, Father Brian Barrett, was a priest of the archdiocese who taught at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie before his untimely death at age 42.)
Father Michael Barrett graduated from Columbia University in 1974 and worked on Wall Street as an account executive for Merrill Lynch before moving to Rome in 1983 to pursue studies in moral theology. He was ordained as a priest for Opus Dei in 1985 at St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope St. John Paul II, and received a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
Upon returning to the United States, he did pastoral work for Opus Dei in Texas, and then in 1999, at the request of the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, he became the director of Holy Cross Chapel and Catholic Resource Center in downtown Houston. Since 2013, he has served in Los Angeles as theological adviser to Archbishop José Gómez.
St. John Paul II canonized the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva, in 2002, calling him “the saint of everyday life.” Pope Francis described St. Josemaria as a “precursor of the Second Vatican Council” for placing emphasis on the universal call to holiness—the idea that holiness is not something just for priests and religious but for laymen and women as well.
Opus Dei is headed internationally by its prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarria, who resides in Rome.