Sister Mary Lou Barba now serves as director of religious

By Catholic Spirit Staff

Bishop Joe Vásquez appointed Missionary Catechist of Divine Providence Sister Mary Lou Barba as the director of the diocesan Office for Religious, effective Feb. 4. Sister Barba takes the place of Daughter of Charity Sister Helen Brewer, who held the position since 2009.

In collaboration with the Vicar General’s office, the Office for Religious works to foster the pastoral care of the women and men religious residing in the diocese. The director serves as the liaison for the bishop in direct relationship with religious communities. The office also promotes activities and events that support consecrated life and ministry.

Sister Barba is no stranger to the Austin Diocese. She worked in the diocesan Office of Religious Education from 1982 to 2000, when she moved to San Antonio to work as the formation director of the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence. She went on to serve the order as the general superior from 2002 to 2010. In 2011, she returned to the diocese to work as the elementary faith formation director at Emmaus Parish in Lakeway, which she will continue to do alongside her role as director of religious.

She hopes to continue the "excellent work" Sister Brewer did in helping men and women religious and the bishop communicate and work together, she said.

"As the director I hope to respond to the expressed needs of the religious and to offer opportunities for spiritual reflection and communal celebrations. I am truly looking forward to this position of collaboration in the Austin Diocese," Sister Barba said.

Sister Barba is a native of San Antonio; she met the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence in her freshman year of high school and began the journey of answering the call to be a religious sister. Upon entering the convent right after high school graduation, she began her studies at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Eventually she obtained a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a minor in philosophy. She also earned a master’s degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin, with an emphasis in pastoral studies and administration.

Sister Barba can be contacted at the diocesan Pastoral Center at (512) 949-2401 or sr-mary-lou-barba@

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