Rest in Peace Sr Evangelist Barrett pbvm

“We gather today to farewell our sister, Evangelist Barrett. We trust that she, who kept her “Father’s commandments” now has her “joy complete”, as described by St John the Evangelist in today’s Gospel.”

These were the opening words shared by Presentation Sisters Congregational Leader, Sister Lucy van Kessel, at the Requiem Mass of Sister, Evangelist Barrett PVBM, celebrated in St Francis Xavier Cathedral last Monday, the 3rd of August 2021.

Principal Celebrant, Bishop Michael Morrissey was joined by Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini and eight priests from the Diocese, Fr Gerard Totañes VG, Fr Brian Ahearn (Dongara), Fr Robert Cross (Chancellor), Fr Bernard Balaraj (Cathedral Administrator), Fr Robert O’Bryan (Mullewa), Fr Steve Casey (Carnarvon) Fr Larry Rodillas (Northampton), Fr Tam Duong (Newman/Tom Price) and Fr Dominic Hoang (Cathedral).  

Three of those Priests carried memories of Evangelist from their lives as young boys. Fr Brian Ahearn was taught by Sister Evangelist in his formative Primary School years in Carnarvon; Fr Robert Cross as a young newly Ordained priest worked with Sr Evangelist in her time serving as Cathedral Sacristan and Fr Steve Casey, who served as a Cathedral Altar Server for many years in his formative years, noted Sister’s duty of care in all things, recalling fondly, “She would inspect our shoes to ensure they were polished before we could go out onto the altar”. 

From Sister Evangelist’s Eulogy, presented by Sister Christine Clarke pvbm, we heard that Mary Bridget Barrett was born in County Cork, Ireland on the 8th of February 1921. She was the youngest of seven siblings to farmers, James and Catherine. After attending school at Kilcoleman, Enniskeane, she came to Geraldton, Western Australia and entered the Presentation Congregation as Sister Evangelist in November 1937. Evangelist was professed in December 1940 and began a long teaching career throughout the Geraldton Diocese beginning in Geraldton and moving to many country towns such as Mount Magnet, Tardun, Greenough, Wiluna, Northampton, Big Bell, Bluff Point, and Port Hedland. A favorite town for her was Carnarvon, where she and Dolores steadfastly remained as the last Presentation Sisters there until they had to leave in 2006.

After a teaching career of 54 years, Sister Evangelist had a busy retirement volunteering with CentraCare, St Vincent de Paul, Hospice and RCIA programs in Geraldton before ‘retiring’ and living with Srs Dolores and Goretti who once again steadfastly remaining in Geraldton long after their Convent had closed and fellow sisters relocated to Perth.  At the ripe age of 97 Evangelist then decided it was time to relocate to Nazareth House Aged Care, Bluff Point, in 2018.

Apart from her 100th birthday in February 2021, Evangelist celebrated 80 years of Religious Profession (Oak Jubilee) on December 19th, 2020. There was great rejoicing on both occasions with priests, friends and Presentation Community members. The Nazareth House Sisters joined Evangelist and provided delicious morning teas. Evangelist was delighted in receiving a papal blessing from Pope Francis and especially wearing the cardigan sent by her niece, Mary, from Ireland for the birthday.

Congregational Leader, Sister Lucy van Kessel, spoke of Evangelist’s dedication of service, summing it up in the words, “Sr Evangelist was a ‘doer’, always on the go, cooking, sewing, teaching, caring for children and adults throughout the Geraldton diocese, especially Sr Dolores in her later years. She was a fund of information, with an amazing memory about Geraldton and the many towns in the diocese. She was dedicated to Nano Nagle’s mission, working for as long as she could. We are grateful for her life, and the love she gave to others. Evangelist was known for her steadfastness and willingness to go wherever she was asked, her friendliness to the people of Geraldton, her ‘busyness’ and love of cooking and gardening. She was always on the move and loved being with others.