Father Bob Barricks remembers the amazement that gripped him in 1993, after the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mary Cathedral. He was a transitional deacon there, walking down the center aisle in the darkened sanctuary, locking up.

“In six months I’ll be walking down this aisle to commit myself to God,” he realized.

Now, 25 years later, he can still feel the wonder of that moment. “My calling belongs to the people of God I’ve served the past 25 years,” says Father Barricks. “I’m a second-career vocation, but the only thing I ever wanted was to be the pastor of a church.”

Not long ago, a visiting African priest told Father Barricks, now pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Southeast Portland, that he wanted a church like Sacred Heart, “where everyone has a great big smile.”

“The glue of the whole thing is to truly celebrate Mass with the people,” said Father Barricks. “I tell the young guys it’s much easier to be joyful than sour and dour.”

Father Barricks was born in California and moved to Christmas Valley with his family as a high school sophomore. He attended Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English. He also holds a master’s in counseling from Portland State University. He’d been a high school teacher for 15 years when he entered Mount Angel Seminary in 1989. He was ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth Steiner in 1994 and, in his first job as a priest, served at St. Anne Parish in Grants Pass. He and the local Knights of Columbus invited all 17 Mount Angel seminarians studying for the Archdiocese of Portland to visit, staying with various parishioners. “I imagine they will be overwhelmed by hospitality and support given by the people here,” Father Barricks told the Catholic Sentinel in 1995.

Father Barricks’ greatest delight as a priest has been celebrating Mass: “I’m flying high,” he says. Also precious have been the times he’s been with families at key moments of their lives, at baptisms, confirmations, marriages, funerals and more, both in joy and sorrow.

In 1996, Father Barricks was named pastor of Holy Family Parish in Southeast Portland. Parishioners also welcomed his mother, Mary Louise Garcia Barricks, who ran the rectory and became the “grandma” of Holy Family School.

In 2003, Holy Family parishioners Jerre and Julie Peterson told the Sentinel the story of Father Barricks’ being there for them. The couple had just learned that their 8-year-old daughter, Audrey, had a brain tumor. On their way to Emmanuel Hospital, a little after 5 p.m., they stopped to telephone Father Barricks. He met them at the hospital. In the years that followed, before and after Audrey’s death, the grieving couple knew they could call on him.

Deacon Tim and LeAnn Dooley, parishioners at Holy Family, describe Father Barrick as being a vessel of the Holy Spirit, drawing people closer to God. “To use a father Bob-ism, we are indeed blessed by his presence,” Deacon Dooley says.

One night when he was at their house for dinner, Father Barricks asked Tim if he would consider becoming a deacon. “I chuckled at the thought,” Deacon Dooley says. “Six months later I was ready to give it a go.”

Deacon Dooley works at Oregon Catholic Press, publisher of this newspaper, and serves as deacon at Holy Family.

Father Barricks began serving at Sacred Heart Parish in 2013.

“It’s been a phenomenal 25 years,” he says.