Bishop John Barres was right in the middle of one of his lifelong favorite milieus, on a basketball court during an intense game. The former Princeton junior varsity point guard was honored during a timeout in the St. John’s-Seton Hall game at Madison Square Garden and given a ceremonial Red Storm jersey.
He was touched by the gesture and impressed by the level of play. “It’s a really exciting game and just a lot of fun to watch,” said the basketball aficionado, who admitted during a prayer service on the eve of his recent installation as head of the Rockville Centre Diocese that he did not play in front of crowds like the 9,027 at the Garden on Saturday.
When he was asked Saturday how close he had come to being on the level of the current St. John’s and Seton Hall players, he laughed and said, “Nowhere near it, but I enjoy watching it very much. I’ll be following St. John’s quite a bit now.”
He has zero regrets about the path he has taken, which led to his being chosen by Pope Francis to lead Long Island’s Roman Catholics. “The first week-and-a-half have been so exciting. I’m looking forward to some great Masses in Spanish tomorrow in Brentwood,” Barres said.
Before the game, he met with coach Chris Mullin and former coach Lou Carnesecca. “Just to see the rapport between the two of them was wonderful,” he said.
He watched the second half of the Red Storm’s 78-70 win while sitting alongside Carnesecca. That was after university president Bobby Gempesaw presented the bishop a No. 5 jersey.
Barres is the fifth bishop in the diocese’s history and the first to have played college basketball.