The following comes from an Oct. 6 story by Michele Jurich in the Catholic Voice, the Oakland diocese paper.

You can get to know a lot about Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, by tagging along on a visit to schools. Students in each classroom at Wood Rose Academy in Concord had prepared questions for the bishop’s Sept. 4 visit. Here are some of the questions and answers to questions posed by students ranging from kindergartners to eighth-graders.

What special gifts did God give you?
My Mom and my Dad. I had a good mom and dad. They’ve died now. I pray they’re in heaven. They lived their whole lives to take care of me and my brothers.

What’s your favorite holiday?
Christmas. Nothing beats the birth of Jesus.

What’s your favorite food?
It’s a tie: Anything chocolate, barbecue potato chips and cherry pie.

What’s your favorite virtue?
Jesus said charity is the greatest. It’s also the hardest. Charity and love are the same word, expressed differently. Mercy is a favorite of mine; I took the word mercy and put it on my coat of arms. When love comes into contact with suffering, it changes into mercy.

What color is your car?
Charcoal gray.

What’s your schedule like on a typical day?
My alarm clock goes off at 5:45 in the morning. I listen to the news before I get out of bed. I get up and get cleaned up. I have a private chapel. The bishop has the privilege that it’s in my room I have a private chapel. I go there to pray. Just me and Our Lord. It has a nice window next to the altar that looks out on Lake Merritt. I can see the sun come up. That’s how I pray for my diocese, for all my schools and prayers. After I say my prayers and my Divine Office, I say Mass on my altar unless I have a public Mass. Usually in Latin. I’m trying to keep up my Latin; if you don’t use a foreign language, you lose it. Then I have breakfast: Cheerios, glass of orange juice, sometimes a banana and coffee.

Then I go to my office and Father Alex (Castillo), he’s my secretary, comes in and says, “This is what your schedule is today.” (Monday, I had lunch with the visiting archbishop of Fiji.)

More meetings in the afternoon. Most evenings, I go to parishes and we have fundraising receptions. We’re trying to raise the money to pay the bill on our new cathedral. We owe a lot of money. If you get a spare million, I’d be grateful if you’d share.

Do you like being bishop?
The pope asked me to be the bishop. St. John Bosco said the desires of the pope are commands. The pope asks you to do this, you say, “Yes, Sir.” The pope is the head of the church on Earth, he represents Christ on earth and he picks the bishops all over the world. If the pope asks you to do it, I take that as a command from Our Lord. When I became a priest, I took a vow of obedience.

Did you ever have a vision or revelation inspired from God?
Not in the way you might be thinking. Not like Joan of Arc, who heard voices. I don’t hear voices. When I pray asking God to help me solve a problem, I’ll get an idea I don’t think is from me.

What are you favorite sports teams?
I have to be loyal to my diocese. I support the Oakland teams, the As and the Raiders.

What’s your favorite Bible story?
My favorite Bible story is about Joseph in the Old Testament….

Do you like to sing?
Sometimes, if no one’s around. Like at my house when I go in the stairs, it makes an echo. If someone comes by and says, “Is that you, Bishop?” I say, “Oh, no, no.” Sometimes I sing in church, when we have the Mass. I need to have a singing teacher rehearse me before a big feast, like Christmas and Easter.

What do you do for fun?
A fun thing for me is coming to your school. I like to celebrate Mass, especially Christmas and Easter, with a full choir and trumpeter, and when I’m giving Confirmation.

What’s the hardest thing to do?
Fundraising; asking people to give money to the church. We have to pay the bills: build churches, build schools. The bishop has to go around and ask people to help us.

To read the original story, click here.