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Pope Francis names priest from Brazil as Boston auxiliary bishop

The Rev. Cristiano Guilherme Borro Barbosa, who has worked at parishes in Cambridge and Lowell, will be ordained to his new position in February.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley presents Boston Auxiliary Bishop-elect Cristiano Barbosa with the pectoral cross, which is a symbol of the office of bishop, at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center in Braintree on Saturday.Gregory L. Tracy/Pilot

Pope Francis has named a Brazilian priest, who has served at parishes in Cambridge and Lowell, as auxiliary bishop to assist Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archdiocese said Saturday.

The Rev. Cristiano Guilherme Borro Barbosa, 47, currently works as episcopal vicar for the central region of the Archdiocese of Boston and as secretary for evangelization and discipleship, and will be ordained as auxiliary bishop early next year, according to a statement from the church.

“I have come to realize what we have been weaving together as the people of God — a beautiful and rich tapestry of faith, hope, and love, that reveals the beauty and wonder of the Archdiocese of Boston,” Barbosa said during a press conference Saturday. “I have loved getting to know my brother priests in the archdiocese, and I continue to feel so blessed to be welcomed here as one of them.”


In the Catholic Church, each diocese has a “residential diocesan bishop,” but larger dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Boston, often have auxiliary bishops to help meet the pastoral and administrative needs of the community, O’Malley said.

Barbosa was born in Adamantina, Brazil, and was ordained as a priest in 2007 in the Diocese of Bauru, in Sao Paulo, according to the archdiocese.

Barbosa came to Boston in 2008 and attended Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, with plans to return to Brazil, he said. However, he began ministering to a growing population of immigrants in the Boston area and felt a “call to mission here in this special place,” Barbosa said.

In Cambridge, he served at the St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis of Assisi parishes, according to the statement. In Lowell, Barbosa served at Holy Family, Immaculate Conception, and St. Anthony of Padua parishes.

The Brazilian community is the fastest-growing demographic in Massachusetts, estimated to be at about 100,000, with the largest concentrations in Framingham, Everett, Boston, Lowell, and Marlborough, O’Malley said during the press conference.


Boston Auxiliary Bishop-elect Cristiano BarbosaGregory L. Tracy/Pilot

“Hence, the Holy Father’s naming of a Brazilian bishop to this post is a very significant moment in the history of our archdiocese,” O’Malley said. “The Archdiocese of Boston is blessed with incredible diversity. We have a huge Hispanic population, but second only to the Spanish-speaking [community] is the Portuguese-speaking community.”

Barbosa said he hopes to reach young Brazilians — kids, teenagers, and young adults — as a “large majority of them” are not attending church, he said.

He also wants to learn to speak better Spanish in order to connect with Spanish speakers in the Boston area, as they come from many countries and bring cultural differences into the church, Barbosa said.

“He offers a shepherd’s heart and a wide range of experiences that have prepared him for this new role in the life of the Church,” O’Malley said in a statement. “His theological background, extensive parish experience, and ministry with the ethnic community clearly appealed to the Holy Father [Pope Francis] in making this appointment.”

Barbosa studied at several universities in Brazil, earning psychology and philosophy degrees, and is a trained psychologist, the church said. He also taught theology at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton and worked part time at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, according to the church.

“I ask all the Catholics of the archdiocese to pray for our new Auxiliary Bishop-Elect Cristiano Barbosa and for his minister among us,” O’Malley said during the press conference.


After learning of his appointment as auxiliary bishop, Barbosa said, he called a few family members to tell them the news.

“My 10-year-old nephew was happy that I became a piece of the chessboard now,” Barbosa said in the conference, as the lay staff, priests, bishops, and members of the media in attendance chuckled.

O’Malley will ordain Barbosa as auxiliary bishop on Feb. 3 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, the statement said.

Bailey Allen can be reached at bailey.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.