Father Barrett was an undergraduate at Columbia when he was attracted by the desire to be a faithful Catholic layman in the middle of the world drawing friends closer to Jesus. That led him to join Opus Dei, Latin for “The Work of God,” which was founded in Madrid in 1928 by St. Josemaria Escriva.
After living and working for several years as a numerary (lay celibate member of Opus Dei) in New York, he went to Rome in 1983 to do advanced theological work, where he obtained a Doctorate in Moral Theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, writing his dissertation on the morality of profit in light of Catholic Social Doctrine. After completing his studies, the Prelate of Opus Dei, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, called him to Holy Orders. St. John Paul II ordained him a priest in St. Peter’s Basilica in 1985.
As a priest, Father Michael served in Rome and Madrid before heading to Houston for 25 years. In 1999, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston asked Opus Dei to provide priests for Holy Cross Chapel, a sanctuary in a small office building on Main Street in the heart of downtown Houston. Father Barrett was the director of the Chapel for 14 years, which he considers a good analogue of preparation for the work that awaits him at St. Agnes. In 2013 he moved to California to become theological advisor for his long-time friend, Archbishop Jose Gomez, in the sprawling Archdiocese of Los Angeles. While there, he helped out on the weekends at St. Andrews Parish in Pasadena.
Father Barrett joined Saint Agnes as our Pastor on July 1, 2016.