This past Tuesday I attended a beautiful funeral Mass for Walter Carlin Barrett Senior, who passed away on July 24, 2013 at the ripe old age of 93. I never met Walter, and I mostly know about his son from others in our Diocese who think very highly of him. The Holy Spirit nudged to go to the funeral even though I didn’t personally know the family and had never been to Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
I ended up sitting with a couple friends from St. Michael’s. There were a number of priests, deacons, seminarians, as well as our bishop in attendance. The church was completely full. The choir was amazing. There’s so much you can tell about a person from the people who gather at his funeral.
I was really impressed that Monsignor Walter Barrett presided at his own father’s funeral Mass. He did a wonderful homily that was an amusing, loving affirmation of his father’s life and legacy. Walter Barrett Sr. was a man who put the Lord first in his life and was completely devoted to his family. When he was younger, he thought about becoming a minister. Later on, he told his son that he’d stolen his vocation.
“Wait til your father comes home,” their mother would say. When they heard their dad wiping his feet on the mat outside the door, that was their signal to straighten up and behave. Monsignor Barrett talked about the faith and grace with which his father brought people together. He was born in 1919 and lived at a time when segregation was the norm and prejudice was running rampant.
As a hard worker, who continued working until his health began to fail. He provided for his family, sometimes working two jobs at a time if that’s what it took to make ends meet.
Monsignor Barrett’s earliest memory of his father was of him reading the Bible to him at bedtime when he was a young child. His dad was head of the household and would lead the way when the family walked to Mass. When they did get a car, his father would always pick people up who he saw walking along the side of the road, even though five of them were already in the car. They’d scoot over and Walter would drive the person wherever he needed to go before they’d go on to their originally intended destination.
He supported Walter and his brother and sister going to Catholic schools for their education. Most importantly Walter Barrett Sr. lived the Gospel. Walter was said to be a man of few words, which was fine, because his example as a beloved son of God, a devout follower of Christ, a faithful husband, and father spoke volumes.
Monsignor Barrett said his family had been hassling him because he’d told them he figured only about 60 people would show up for the funeral since Walter had outlived many of his family members and quite a few of his friends. I’m not sure how many the church can hold, but it was definitely filled to capacity.
Most Reverend Bishop DiLorenzo, a number of people from the Pastoral center, the staff members of the cluster of parishes Monsignor Barrett oversees in Hampton, and countless people from parishes around the Diocese came to honor the legacy of Walter Barrett Sr. The testimony to his life was the way he lived out his faith.
I hope and pray that when my time comes to pass from this life into the next that the Lord and those who knew me will most of all remember the importance of drawing ever closer to the Christ.
One of the many reasons I believe the Holy Spirit led me to the Northside for the funeral Mass is because a woman from St. Michael’s parish recently told me that my dad had been part of the inspiration for the Rosary Prayer Group she started. At his funeral, which this woman attended, it was mentioned that my dad always prayed the Rosary.
I now have the blue bead Rosary he prayed with all the time, and I use it regularly. One gift for which I am very grateful for from my parents and grandmothers in particular is the gift of the desire to put God first in life and as part of that having a strong devotion to the person who knew Jesus most intimately, the Blessed Mother.
Walter Barrett Sr. walked with the Lord in this life and is likely rejoicing in His Presence for all eternity. Here’s the link to his obituary and online guest book.
Lord, please grant comfort and peace to Walter Barrett Senior’s wife, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, to his family and friends, and all who are mourning this man’s passing. Give all who are grieving the loss of loved ones the peace which passes all understanding. Open their hearts to You, who are both Holy Comforter and Wonderful Counselor.