The octogenarian was the oldest of the catechumens affirmed by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan at the Rite of Election ceremony last month. The 27 men and women will now receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and first Communion at the Easter Vigil on April 3.
Reflecting on his desire to learn more about the Catholic faith in his twilight years, Barry said it was underpinned by wanting to understand his late mother’s connection to the Church. She died when Barry was only 18 months old and after learning his mum and grandmother were Catholic, there had always been a nagging need to “fill in the gaps”.
“At this time in life you become a bit pensive about what it’s all about and so that was the notion, that sense of not having had a real connection with one’s mother,” he said.
“It was a thing I wanted to understand more, to have a better sense of who she was and what her influence on my life was in that short time, and what it might have been had certain facts been different.
“Maybe if things weren’t as they were I could have seen myself having the complete Catholic experience, from baptism, to a Catholic education and the whole thing.”
While he was not baptised as a baby, Barry grew up attending the Methodist Church and later married in the Church of England.
In more recent years he had more time to think about his faith, the Catholic Church and his mother.
“It’s about understanding the values that she was brought up with. It brings a sense of comfort, it’s completing a section of the journey…it’s filling a bit in.
“That faith journey – we are all somewhere along the track. It adds a dimension to your life that you hadn’t possibly had.”
Barry said his friendship with Fr Maurice Shinnick over the past 25 years had resulted in many discussions about the Catholic faith and the ideas shared were considered as he eventually came to the decision to sign up for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process.
“This learning process I am on is reinforcing values and it is all part of understanding the significance of bits and pieces,” he said.
“As the Archbishop told us, becoming a Catholic is just opening the door, this is not the end. Now is the opportunity for this to be expanded and to learn more and get as involved as you want to be.”
Supporting Barry in the RCIA process has been Mary Camilleri from the Emmaus parish. She described it as a privilege to accompany Barry, “a questioner and deep thinker”, and fellow catechumens Paul Saler and Adrian Graziano on their journey.
“They have a deep spiritual yearning and their questions both challenge and excite me, awakening anew my own faith each time we meet,” she said.
“Being involved in the RCIA program in a number of parishes over the last 35 years has been a phenomenal experience.
“I am always surprised and delighted by catechumens’ inquiry stories and the courage it takes to commence the RCIA journey.”
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