Karen Adams, Special to The Catholic Virginian
When the women in Bishop Barry C. Knestout’s family talk about him, they describe him as ordinary and extraordinary. As a child, he enjoyed sports, played with his friends, and helped around the house — but he was remarkable in his quiet, constant care for others. His mother and his three sisters all use the same words when talking about him: calm, caring and considerate.
Thoughtful youth
“Even as a child, Barry was a very caring person who helped everyone,” said his mother, Caroline Knestout, 90. “He has a twin, Tom, and he was always especially attentive to him.”
In a phone interview from her home in Odenton, Maryland, she recalled his kindness toward others outside the family, too.
“He loves people and always was concerned about his classmates and the friends he brought to our house,” she said. “He was conscientious about helping people in need.”
He followed the example of his father, Thomas, one of the first deacons in the Archdiocese of Washington in the 1970s, who had once considered becoming a priest himself.
“He often took Barry and my brothers with him to visit the poor on Sundays instead of watching football on TV,” said Janice Colvin, at 62 the oldest of the nine children — three girls and six boys.
She noticed his quiet influence when she was babysitting.
“If one of his brothers was upset, he would calm him down,” she said from her home in Elkton, Maryland. “It was just part of his makeup to comfort people.”
Mature and studious for his age, he was eager to learn and often had a book with him. But he was also a typical boy who loved to laugh, have fun, and play sports, especially baseball, basketball and soccer – and with a big family he always had teammates.
“One thing he loved to do was go to movies, and I did, too,” said Rose Maslo, 61, speaking from Clarksville, Maryland. “One time, when he was older, he and I went to see “Out of Africa” together, and enjoyed that. He was very moved by that story.”
Compassionate problem-solver
Julia Peters, 59, who lives near Bedford, in the Diocese of Richmond, also noted his even-tempered disposition. They all still think of him as “Brother Barry,” who loves his family and with whom they always discuss things honestly.
What does she think about having her brother as her diocesan bishop?
“I’m very proud of him and I know he’ll do a good job,” she said. “He has compassion and empathy for all kinds of people and all points of view.”
His listening skills and understanding nature will help him find the best possible compromise in difficult situations, she said.
Peters added, “Because he’s such a good artist, I think he sees things that many of us don’t see.”
Maslo noted that while her brother was studying architecture at the University of Maryland, he would come up with creative and appealing solutions to challenging design problems.
“He was really good at integrating all that,” she said.
She recalled a remarkable 2014 pilgrimage to Italy with him. Their brother, Father Mark Knestout, is a member of the John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington, which hosted the pilgrimage. Maslo and Bishop Knestout joined the group.
One day, the three siblings took a side trip to the medieval town of Pacentro, east of Rome.
“Barry arranged this visit to the town where our maternal grandfather, Carlos Lucci, was born,” Maslo explained.

During a pilgrimage to Italy in 2014, Bishop Knestout, Father Mark Knestout and their sister, Rose Maslo, took a side trip to Pacentro, the birthplace of their maternal grandfather, Carlos Lucci. They visited a relative Olivia Lucci, second from right, at her home. (Photo/Rose Maslo)

They found the family cemetery and spoke to the priest at the church.
“He found the baptismal records for Carlos Lucci in this dusty old book that looked like something out of ‘Harry Potter,’” she said with a laugh.
They also found the home of Olivia Lucci, another relative. They knocked on her door, were warmly welcomed, and, after coffee in her kitchen, walked with her to church. That day was a wonderful experience, Maslo said, and she noticed that Bishop Knestout reverently observed everything around him.
“I’m so glad I got to share that special time with my brothers,” she said.
Foundation of faith
Even with nine busy children, the Knestout family life centered on faith.
“We prayed together often, at meals and on special occasions,” said Peters.
She also recalled family seders during the Easter season, with challah, matzo, charoset, and other special foods.
“Our father and mother had a very strong Catholic faith,” Maslo said. “From their example we followed that lead, and Barry was influenced by that. It was a very deep faith.”
From 1965 to 1969, the family lived in Turkey. Thomas Knestout was sent there in his work for the National Security Agency.
“We never knew exactly what his job was; he was a government employee who worked with codes,” said Colvin.
The exposure to other cultures and faiths helped the entire family develop a world view, she said.
“I think that experience influenced Barry deeply,” Colvin said, noting that visiting ancient Christian sites, including Ephesus, shaped the bishop’s own faith.
“I believe that this is what Barry was meant to be,” she said. “He is a kind, considerate person and I think this is what God wanted all along.”