Thomas John Barry, Jr.
After spending many years discerning his vocation to the priesthood, pursuing seminary studies and gaining a wealth of experiences in various parish and diocesan assignments in the Dioceses of Trenton and Paterson and the Archdiocese of Newark, Thomas J. Barry, Jr., is ready to be ordained a transitional deacon.
“I’m looking forward to becoming part of people’s lives,” Barry said. “I want to be known as a person that people can count on, knowing that I am praying with them and for them” during the joys and challenges in their lives.
Describing his journey to priesthood as a gradual process, Barry said he realized he had a vocation as he became more involved in his home parish, St. James, Red Bank.
“I wanted to make more of a commitment to serving the Church,” he said, adding that he wanted to participate in the life of his parish “more than just 45 minutes on Sunday.” His attendance at daily Mass in St. James Church caught the attention of Mary Ellen Connolly, parish director of religious education at the time, who approached him about becoming a sixth grade catechist and encouraging him to earn catechist certification.
When he joined the roster of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, he regarded it as a privilege not only to administer the Sacrament at parish Masses but also to the Catholic patients in Riverview Hospital, Red Bank.
Becoming a reader was another privilege, he acknowledged, for it gave him the opportunity to assist with proclaiming God’s Word and, speaking on a more personal level, “helped me to overcome my trepidation of speaking in front of people.”
When Barry began a job in restaurant management in Houlihans, Eatontown, his work schedule was such that he started attending the daily noon Mass in the town’s St. Mary Church, where he met then-pastor, Msgr. Michael J. Walsh, with whom he befriended and began discussing the possibility of a priestly vocation.
Barry extended appreciation to Msgr. Walsh for his support and guidance, as well as his willingness to accompany Barry on his first meeting with the vocation director in the Diocesan Chancery.
Assignments that Barry has held outside the Diocese of Trenton have included serving in St. Bridget’s in Newark, which is a program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark that provides shelter for men living with HIV/AIDS; the Little Sisters of the Poor in Totowa, which provides care for the elderly; St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Belleville, “where I learned about parish life of a priest,” and St. Joseph Hospital, Paterson.
A Hazlet native who will turn 41 in July, Barry is the son of Patricia Mills Barry and the late Thomas J. Barry, Sr., and has two siblings, Kristine and James. He attended Lillian Drive and Union Ave. Middle School, Hazlet, and Raritan High School, Hazlet.
His college education included attending Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, from where he earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and Rutgers College at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, from where he was awarded a bachelor of science degree in administration of justice.
Within the Diocese, he served summer assignments in St. James Parish, Pennington, and St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, where Msgr. Walsh currently serves as pastor, and St. Dominic Parish, Brick. As a transitional deacon, the new Deacon Barry will be assigned to St. Joseph Parish, Toms River.
He has also enjoyed serving as a third grade catechist and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults team member in St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Red Bank; as the Monmouth County representative for the Catholic Men for Jesus Christ, and holding membership in the Knights of Columbus council on the campus of Seton Hall University and the Vincent T. Lombardi Council in Middletown
Barry noted that he will be vested as a transitional deacon by Msgr. Philip Lowery, pastor of St. James Parish, and next year, Msgr. Walsh will vest him at his priestly ordination.