Br Richard Dermot Barrett
Dermot, your journey’s done,
But the way without you darkens.
Your wisdom reflected His,
Mirroring His dazzling light.
You spoke, and truth rejoiced.
You challenged, and led the faint-hearted.
His two-edged sword was yours
Spurring us to give and to forgive,
And to share our dawns with His.
Your voice is life within us, throbbing
To awaken His seed in our iced hearts,
Believing always in us
Even when we did not believe.
We watched your Calvary,
Grieving and celebrating with Mary
As you let go sight and sound,
Hands and feet and at last heart
To make room for that one
Who knocked at your door
Many miles and many years ago,
And when other inns were unwilling
Found you waiting, watching, welcoming.
Dermot, we grieve, we rejoice,
But we are calmed to know that you
More saint than scholar but deeply both
Talk to Edmund of us,
And together inspire us still
To love and to dare as you two did
To pray and to surrender as you two did
So that Jesus live in our hearts too
And for ever.
—Br Brendan MacCarthaigh
I had the privilege of living with Bro Dermot Barrett in community 1977-78 & 1980. Bro Barrett was the cornerstone in the houses of formation — the Novitiate and the Scholasticate. Mystic, saint, scholar ... truly he was God’s work of art. His devotion to the Eucharist, Mother Mary and the Rosary was and is a benchmark, worthy of emulation. However, for me personally, what really inspired me was his love for and interpretation of the Sacred Scripture. Incisive, thought provoking, inspiring, dazzling. Truly he proved the Bible to be a life source, which could be used for every moment of our daily lives.
He was indeed God's work of art.
I can imagine how profound the absence of Dermot would be for the Christian Brothers of the Indian Province. In the words of Gloria Burrett:
Imagine the apostles lost without their teacher and friend on that one Friday, which could not have felt “good”
Imagine Mary Magdalene looking for her special one who knew and yet loved her with no hint of Judgement
Imagine the Magi and the shepherds leaving the cosy space where sacredness, delight and humility wrapped together in beautiful form, to trudge back to their less-full worlds
Imagine Mary touching the ice cold body she knew so intimately which once on her lap was life itself
Imagine and know what losing Dermot feels like.
—Stephen de Silva (1972)
It is with some sadness that I read of the death of our dear friend, Dermot, who died a day after my wife, Loretta, and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. He claimed he played a part in our romance and told her that she was too good for the Brothers: at 15 I had harboured ambitions of joining the Brothers.
We became very good friends and he told us that we were a part of his extended family. When he visited Australia in the late 1960s to run seminars for the Brothers here in Australia, he always made time to stay with us in Perth for a couple of days. Our first son, Richard, was named after him.
We always enjoyed these opportunities to meet and had many good “heart to heart” chats that went into the early hours of the morning. He possessed the true gift of communications — he was a master of initiating a conversation and then imperceptibly handing over to us — he was one of the truly great LISTENERS. He would merely intervene to keep the conversation going. He made us feel that we were the only people in the world that mattered to him, but yet I know he used this technique with all his friends — a gift well worth striving to imitate.
He was a mentor to me in my final year in 1955, and continued as a confidant to us and a person we relied on for advice especially when making the most serious decisions of our lives. Unfortunately, we lost touch with him in recent times and in spite of many attempts to re-establish contact we were unsuccessful.
There are many stories to share but for now I will just recall his great love and devotion to Our Lady — our Queen as he called her in his letters and conversations.
We now join with all the many students of his extended family and say Rest in Peace dear friend. You have fought the good fight and now all that awaits you is the reward that you so richly deserve.
—Llewellyn Harries (1955)
We are all part of Brother Barrett's immediate family through osmosis, and his death is our personal loss, so my condolences go out to all of us. It was a pleasure to speak to him a month ago and a comfort to know that this time I was not too late — sadly, I missed speaking to our own class master, Brother Bennett, before he died. They were both the last of a very special breed and we were fortunate to have them in our lives to give us models toward which we could only hope to aspire.
—Ashley Shemain (1956)
Who holds us together?
A sacred tradition has it
Dear People of God,
You and I have been so blessed. We have known such a one. Richard Dermot Barrett decided early in his life that the search for God was worth staking his whole life on. And with that commitment and determination that we saw all the time, he followed the path of his dreams.
They say of Jesus, that when his disciples looked at him they saw what a life full of God looked like. A life full of God. There are so many aspects of our lives that are full of God. But there are also so many aspects of our life bereft of God. But in Jesus we had a life full of God. Dermot wanted that fullness. Like the mystics of all ages and every religion he recognised the One in whom his soul delights — and everything else paled into insignificance in comparison.
The mystics tell us that not only are we made by God, we are made of God. Can you imagine that! Made of God. That is what being created in God's image is really like. God's wisdom is in us. God's compassion is in us. God's creativity is in us. God's forgiveness is in us. God's love is in us. Our task — like the life of Jesus — is to make that God within us visible. Dermot showed us how to do that.
At its best, this is the vocation of the religious brother. To us Brothers here, we have a long way to go to make this a reality. But Dermot shows us it is possible. To the rest of us, Dermot's life tells us that God is real, that God takes us seriously. That nothing, truly nothing will separate us from the love of God. Believe that!
—Br Philip Pinto
It was the biggest shock to receive a very early morning call on
Sunday Morning from Sunil, who's been such a good friend, to
inform me about the passing away of Dermot. I have known
Dermot since our days in Shillong. Dermot had been like a father
to me and had been part of my life, especially since I got married
to an Irish man, and now living in Ireland, our relationship became
stronger than ever.
The last time I got the chance to see Dermot
was when he came home last summer and my daughter and I
went to meet him in Dublin, and couldn't believe that he had
become so frail and still managed to get on the bus to O'Conell
street. He was so delighted to see me and spoilt my daughter
rotten. We spent the day reminiscing our times in Shillong and had
the best of craic.
Never dreamt that that day would be my last time to
be with him. The last time I spoke to Dermot was in December to
wish him a Happy Christmas.
Dermot, both my husband Gerry and daughter Bianca thought the world of you. You shall always have a place in our hearts and in our prayers. We know you're in heaven and next to Our Lady. Please pray for us and remember my family. Slán Dermot dear and may you rest in peace.
Am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Bro. Barrett.
I use the word passing, for it summons the end of an era and the break of a vital link in the chain with the Alma Mater.
He was truly an honourable man.
May his soul be carried by homesick angels back to the heavens where he belongs.
—Neville Correy (1957)
I'm kinda shocked as just the other day I was over at the Brothers' house in St. Columbas and had dinner with the bros and spent a little time chatting with him at dinner and then in his room before he called it a night. Another of the great Irishmen who dedicated their lives to working amongst the poor of India. Abu was one of his true loves. May his soul rest in peace.
—Byron Pereira (1975)
We are devastated at the news of the death of Br
Barrett. May his soul rest in peace. We will offer our Mass this morning
When he came to our Mt Abu reunion in Toronto, and Marmora, Ontario
in 2000, he took each of the fellows for a walk and asked questions
about them and their families. He had a gift of picking your brain
without you even realizing it.
We all went for a visit to Niagara Falls, Ontario. He was walking alone with his hands behind his back when I caught up to him and asked “A penny for your thoughts, Brother?”
He said, “Well, I was just thinking how the roaring water coming down the river at the top, had power and strength like the Eternal Father, and the pouring magnificence of the water going out over the Falls was like Jesus, and the explosive mist erupting up out of the bottom and spreading through the world, was like The Holy Spirit — and yet they are all One like The Blessed Trinity.”