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Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Fr. BARRY BERCIER, A.A.



Interviewer - Would you tell us something of your background, early education and journey to the congregation?

Fr. Barry - Though I was born in Wallingford, CT, my family soon moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I knew two things very early on as a high school student. One was that I wanted to teach and the second was that I wanted to be a priest. When it came time to apply to college, which was my first goal after high school graduation, I was moving toward Catholic University when they offered a full scholarship. However, I knew a Sr. Veronica Gonthtier in FL whose brother  Fr. Denys Gonthtier, A.A. was on the faculty of Assumption College. At her urging, I visited the college with a friend of mine and was drawn to the school and community. Upon investigation, they offered me the same incentive as CU. Both Fr. Denys and Fr. Ernest Fortin, A.A. were significant mentors in my life.

- Where did your studies take you from there?

- As a philosophy major in college, I was interested in doing graduate work at Notre Dame University.  But before long my life began to take a series of different and significant turns. After a short return to FL, I moved to Brookline, MA and studied political philosophy at Boston College under the tutelage of Fr. Ernest  for the next two years. For a short time I lived in the North End of Boston where I wrote an unpublished novel. This venture was followed by five and a half years of teaching literature at St. Bernard's High School in Fitchburg, MA, while living in Spencer, MA. Upon my return to Brookline, I did my novitiate at Buckminster Rd. followed by M.Div. studies at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge and ordination in 1985.

- Where did your journey take you after ordination?

- Later in the 80's I did teach at the college for a while and then moved to Canada and a small village parish which the Bishop of Quebec offered me in the northern part of the province.  The population of Parent was six hundred people and was at the end of a four hour drive on a dirt road. The people could not have been more welcoming and hospitable. I lived in the choir loft with my dog Muskaeg, who was my constant companion. During Mass she would lie quietly off to the side of the sanctuary and come alive only at the kiss of peace. My two years in Parent were richly blessed. Though the people were quite poor, I would often find food on my front steps in the morning as expressions of their care and gratitude. I had much time to read, write, study, reflect and be nourished surrounded by such beautiful country. One of the fruits of my reflection and study was the growth of my longstanding interest in our Jewish roots. Previously I had spent three months in Israel before my ordination.

- Where did your ministry take you from there?

- Ready for a new experience after two years in Canada, I contacted Bishop Joseph in Portland, ME. He offered me a position on an Indian reservation on the U.S. Canadian border. That was a very challenging cultural experience for the four years that I was there. At the end of my years in Maine, I was a campus minister at Bowdoin College for a semester.

- How did you follow through with your interest in Judaism?

-  While on the Indian reservation, I attempted to gather a group together for a trip to Israel. I ended up taking the deacon George and his two grandsons on a wonderful pilgrimage.
Prior to this trip and by doing research and study in Judaism and its culture, it became clear to me that I needed to learn both modern and scriptural Hebrew. So I took weekly classes from Rachel and Harold Silverman in Calais, ME. after they first received the approval of their Rabbi.
They became my very good friends!

- Now what are your plans and hopes for the future?

- Now I am back at Assumption College teaching theology with my focus on our Jewish roots. Yearly, I take groups of students to Israel. I believe that it is most important to be an Assumptionist presence on the campus and be as involved as much as possible in student life.
Through this presence and education we have a great deal to share of the Assumption tradition with these young men and women.




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