The Norland post office, 18640 NW Second Ave., has been renamed in honor of the Rev. Richard Marquess-Barry of Saint Agnes Episcopal Church in Overtown.
“It is a great honor for me,” said Marquess-Barry, 74, a Miami-born son of Bahamian immigrants who graduated from Northwestern Senior High in Liberty City. “One does not work or do things hoping for anything like this, but does it because he is compelled.”
A taped audio message was played of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson extending well wishes to Marquess-Barry. Wilson was unable to attend because she is in Nigeria working to help free girls who were kidnapped by extremist militant group Boko Haram, according to her spokeswoman.
Wilson initiated the bill to dedicate the post office to Marquess-Barry to honor his 39 years of service at Saint Agnes, 1750 NW Third Ave.
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Marquess-Barry was the only “person of color” in 1965 to be enrolled at the Virginia Theological Seminary, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. He went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in divinity, and served as a visiting fellow at the University of Munich and Oxford University.
As a young priest, he served as a civil rights advocate “despite numerous assassination attempts,” according to the Postal Service. During his tenure at Saint Agnes, one of Miami’s oldest and largest churches, Marquess-Barry championed affordable housing and equal employment initiatives locally and throughout South Florida. He retired in 2010.
“On a personal note, Father Barry, too, is of Bahamian descent,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who joined the reverend’s family and other dignitaries on July 31 to honor Marquess-Barry at a dedication ceremony outside the post office. Barry’s wife of 52 years, Virla Rolle, was present, as was his daughter and two grandsons.
Gilbert said the city of Miami Gardens issued a proclamation in Barry’s honor and then handed him a key to the city. “This has only been done once before.”
“Father Barry has always delivered,” Gilbert said.