The Rev. Eugene J. Barber, SJ, a priest for over 60 years, died Sunday, June 11, 2023, in Arica, Chile, South America.
Born in Scranton on June 12, 1932, son of the late John T. and Mary Vanston Barber, he attended Nativity elementary school and Scranton Prep, both in Scranton, PA. Entering the Jesuit Novitiate in Wernersville, PA, and completing his novitiate, he made his vows as a Jesuit in 1950. After three years of philosophy at St. Louis University in Missouri and his theological studies from 1960-1964 at Woodstock College in Maryland, on June 6, 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood.
A teacher of Latin, English Literature and religion at Jesuit high schools inWashington, D. C., St. Louis, Missouri and Osorno, Chile, Father Barberrequested to minister in Chile. His offer was accepted and in November 1966, he arrived at the Colegio San Mateo in Osorno, Chile. After 25 years of teaching in Jesuit schools, he asked for a change in ministry. In 1989, he arrived in Arica, Chile, where the provincial named him the vicar of the Santa Cruz parish with special attention to the San Edwardo Community. It was at this time that he began his 30+ years of apostolic service to the Hogar de Christo (Religious Dancers). He recounted that ministering to the dancers was like introducing himself to another culture, which within the Chilean culture, was like a subculture. During his time as pastor in Arica and Santiago, he moved around the parishes on his bicycle even late at night.
With the death of Father Barber, a cycle of presence of Jesuits from the Province in Maryland came to an end. He was a faithful priest, beloved educator, devoted pastor, poet, religious who was very sensitive to the sufferings of the poor. He loved the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
He was councilor, advisor, as well as teacher and friend.
Surviving are cousins including Mr. John Higgins; Mrs. Ann Marie Higgins Kincel; Mrs. Clare Vanston Durkin; and Sr. Marie Lourdes Vanston, IHM; numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. He was preceded in death by his sister, Rosemary Barber McGurrin and brother-in-law, Joseph McGurrin.
At Father Barber’s request, the Mass of Christian Burial and interment were held in Arica, Chile, South America.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated with family and friends in the chapel ofOur Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA., at 2:00 pm on Saturday, August 26, 2023.