Father Tom Barley
Diocese of San Angelo, Texas
Father Tom Barley has lived in many places and has a broad perspective on the world. A priest for nearly 27 years, he began his vocation journey at age 14 with a yearning for missionary work. With four masters’ degrees (MSW, MBA, MDiv-Theology, and JCL-Canon Law), he is also quite well educated.
Growing up in a military family, Father Barley was exposed to a variety of cultures and experiences as he traveled internationally and lived in both Mexico and Germany. Through his travels he became aware of both the poverty and the richness of various cultures and peoples.
He grew up in the transformative years of Vatican II and embraces the life-giving changes it brought to the Church.
He has held many positions — pastor, Presbyteral Council vice chair and chair, consultor, dean — and has served on many committees in the diocese.
When he arrived in San Angelo, he learned of the poverty of the incarcerated and the daily struggles they face. To address their needs, in 2008 he brought the Ministry of the Third Cross (MOTC) to the diocese.
Through MOTC, a retreat ministry, Fr. Barley makes an effort to minister to the incarcerated who face significant challenges to overcome the troubles that brought them to prison. With time for reflection, renewal and repentance, weekend retreats offer participants the chance to experience the love of Jesus Christ in a supported community environment.
Fr. Barley’s commitment to helping others extends beyond those who are incarcerated, though.
For more than 15 years, Fr. Barley has served the Engaged Encounter Ministry. He responds to petitions for declarations of nullity of marriages. He actively participates in Pro-Life leadership in his deanery as well as in Rachel’s Vineyard, a post-abortion healing ministry.
He is very active with ACTS ministry and holds retreats for youth, women, and men. He recently assisted in creating ACTS retreats for the whole diocese.
As a judicial vicar, his work takes him beyond his own community. He has been involved with a retreat at Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex since 2008. The ministry has grown to include a spring retreat, monthly reunions, weekly mass, Bible study, sacramental preparation and RCIA. Fr. Barley has brought more than 100 young people to baptism, confirmation and First Holy Communion in the past 10 years.
He has also helped bring the ministry to several other corrections facilities in Texas, guided by a commitment to help incarcerated people experience deep spiritual healing and “Love as I have loved you.” Whether inside or outside the correctional facilities, Fr. Barley encourages the incarcerated to reconnect with their faith and the sacraments. His work impacts other volunteers, too. Since 2009 he has built an ever-growing team and has opened doors for laity to reach out to the incarcerated.
An encourager who prefers “we” to “I,” he lives by faith, not by sight. He has a call to unity, not uniformity. He lives out Matthew 25:40, “When you did it to the least of these you did it for me.”