Notes on a Friend’s Funeral

I pray you are having a blessed Eastertide.

As you know, this is a bittersweet time for the HLI family. Having lost our friend and mentor, Monsignor Barreiro, on Holy Thursday, it has been a time of mourning even as we remember his courageous life during the most triumphant season of the Liturgical Year.

On Easter Monday I traveled to Norwalk, Connecticut with Dr. Brian Clowes and our network manager, John Fusto. The next morning we were due to participate in Monsignor Barreiro’s Requiem Mass and internment in Saint John’s Cemetery in Norwalk.

The Requiem Mass and sacred music were beautiful! Monsignor, who planned his services, would have been very pleased. Anyone who knew him knew of the reverence he had for the Mass, especially in its traditional form, and how he valued the solemnity and precision of a Mass celebrated well.

Monsignor Barreiro's Requiem Mass
Monsignor Barreiro’s Requiem Mass

The Mass was well attended by Monsignor’s friends and the parishioners of Saint Mary’s Parish. I was very happy to see so many people.

After our return, I spoke with the Dominican Sisters at Rosary Hill Home, where Monsignor was cared for at the end of his life, to thank them for their care of Monsignor. Despite the short length of his stay with the Sisters, Monsignor made a lasting impression on them and the staff. The Sisters shared stories about Monsignor’s prayerfulness, humility and heroic example during his end-of-life journey. One Sister said he gave a powerful witness to the power of trusting God. They were happy to be of service during his final days, just as we are deeply grateful for their kindness and faithfulness in their vocation.

MonsignorBurialIt has been a difficult time for the HLI family with many deaths of family members over the last couple of months. Not too long ago we published a reflection from Dr. Joseph Meaney on the end of his father’s life called “A Good Death.” The same could be said of Monsignor’s passing, as he had much time to prepare, and impressed many people with his willingness to seek treatment, while totally trusting in God’s will for him and praying for peace and acceptance. When it became clear that the end of his earthly journey was near, he was at great peace, and was even able to receive some visitors, including his long time friend, Raymond Cardinal Burke.

Cardinal Burke knew well his friend’s love for the Holy Mass and his passion for the defense of life—traits which they both shared in great measure.

I think it could be fairly said that Monsignor had a good death, one that as a scholar and faithful Catholic he learned as an art from his study of the saints and from his service to others. I think there is an art to dying, which is harmonious with the art of living, both requiring in the end that each of us put God first and conform our will to His.

After the Requiem Mass I was able to meet some of Monsignor’s friends, and heard a remarkable story about his passion for the defense of human life. When he was still serving as parochial vicar in the Archdiocese of New York in 1989, Monsignor became alarmed at the number of posters advertising abortion services on the walls of subway stations. With a friend, he decided to do something about it. Late one night, Monsignor (then Father Barreiro) and his friend traveled up and down the subway lines ripping these posters from the walls.

Way to go, Father Barreiro! Would that more priests had this passion and determination.

I would like to thank you all again for your prayers for Monsignor. I was able to talk to him a few hours before he died and expressed to him our love and gratitude. He was very weak and unable to respond, but I know that he was aware of all the prayers being offered for him.

Let us continue to remember Monsignor in our prayers and thank God for the gift of his life. And, like Monsignor, let us all strive to live a life in truth in love, putting God first, and conforming to His will with trust and a joyful spirit.

3 thoughts on “Notes on a Friend’s Funeral

  1. +J.M.J.
    If I remember correctly, Monsignor Barreiro advised me by phone on the issue of getting a j-tube for a family member, which was the best I could do for him to get nutrition and hydration in his circumstances. From reading on his HLI activities, I also recall happily his devotion to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, which I’m happy to attend when I have the opportunity. I’ll keep praying for the repose of his soul, and for his canonization, if in accordance with God’s Holy Will. Thanks for your article.
    In caritate Christi,
    Mrs. Richard Avian (Carol Avian)

  2. I am a member of St. Mary Church in Norwalk, CT where Monsignor was for the last nine months of his life. What a blessing he was to all of us at St. Mary’s! He loved being part of the parish life, meeting all the families and sharing in all the activities of our busy church. He had so much to share with every single individual he spoke with. It was so obvious how intelligent he was and his sense of humor was a joy to everyone. We miss his presence at St. Mary very much. The pro-life movement has lost a real champion. Rest in peace, Monsignor. You will be remembered always in our masses and prayers.

  3. This faithful priest died on the day commemorating the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood! What a glorious welcome he must have received from the Eternal High Priest because of his faithful witness to TRUTH. May Msgr. Barreiro rest in eternal peace.

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