Fr. Bernard Toal: 65 Years As A Missionary

February 15, 2010

Fr. Bernard Toal

As a Columban Father for nearly 65 years, Fr. Bernard “Barney” Toal of Philadelphia is one of the oldest Columban priests and is still active in our Hispanic and Filipino ministry in St. Mary’s Parish in Fontana, California.

Although he was ordained in 1943, World War II prevented him from going immediately to the mission fields. Fr. Barney kept himself busy with parish work in California and Arizona before heading to the Philippines in late 1945. After teaching high school for a number of years in Ozamiz City on the island of Mindanao, Fr. Barney returned to Bristol, Rhode Island, to take on the job of seminary formation.

Columban Father Barney Toal as a young man baptizing a child in the Philippines and, at right, in his 90s as a missionary in California.

In 1968, Fr. Barney returned to mission work in Peru, where he spent the next 11 years. During that time, the local parish built a new church and house to support the thriving Catholic community. Fr. Barney returned to the United States in 1979 for parish work and celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1983.

In 2001, Fr. Barney began his new ministry at St. Mary’s Church. Fontana is a multi-cultural community serving both Hispanic and Filipino members. Fr. Barney’s cross-cultural experiences in the Philippines and Peru along with his genuine affection for the people of his parish ensured his success.

Fr. Barney will celebrate his 65th anniversary as a Columban priest in December 2008—still active in his pursuit of his calling from God.