By Mary Ellen Mahoney
One of Pope Francis’ favorite topics is the family. As the Pope has said: “… the most beautiful thing that God made … was the family. He created man and woman, and He gave them everything ...” Pope Francis also told us that “God knocks at the door of hearts ... But, do you know what He likes best? To knock on the doors of families and find families that are united, to find families that love each other, to find families that bring up their children and educate them and help them to keep going forward and that creates a society of goodness, of truth and of beauty.” Leo Barron was not in Philadelphia when Pope Francis spoke these words at the World Meeting of Families in September of 2015, but, if he had been, his ears surely would have been ringing! Leo Barron and his late wife, Lorraine, are a tribute to God’s love of the family. Through their 54-year marriage, Leo and Lorraine Barron raised five children within the Catholic Church and their family now includes 19 grandchildren who are following their grandparents’ tradition of faith.
Leo and Lorraine Barron came to Gales Ferry and Our Lady of Lourdes in 1981. Prior to that, Leo’s position as a special agent with Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) for 28 years took the Barrons throughout the world on assignment. Leo also had a career as a Naval Reservist, retiring as a Commander. Lorraine taught school prior to having her children and dedicating her life to raising them and supporting her community. Both Leo and Lorraine were active at Our Lady of Lourdes; Leo was a lector and Lorraine was a CCD teacher. Lorraine also volunteered on a weekly basis at Pendleton Health and Rehabilitation Center and was active in the Ledyard Lions Club and an officer of the Ladies Guild of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Because of their shared love for their Church and deep respect for Father Brian Converse, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Leo decided this Spring to establish, in honor of his wife, the Leo E. and Lorraine A. Barron Endowment within the Catholic Foundation in order to support Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Leo shared: “I have been so blessed to have been married to my best friend for over 50 years. Our marriage resulted in five great adults to give the world, who, in turn, married and are raising more soldiers for Christ. God certainly guided Lorraine and me right in bringing them up.”
Kerri Charette, Leo’s daughter, also a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes, noted: “Mom truly lived her faith. She is surely well pleased that Dad has established the Leo E. and Lorraine A. Barron Endowment. Creating the endowment is a natural continuation of her life of service and giving time, talent and treasure in gratitude for the many blessing she and my father have been given. It will help to ensure that the Norwich Diocese and its entities remain able to provide assistance to those in need, fund Catholic education, and, most importantly, enable Diocesan parishioners to live a life in Christ by following His example of love.”
The Barrons’ endowment marks the establishment of the 27th endowment of the Catholic Foundation, and the third that has been set up under the direction of Father Converse. Reflecting on the faith of the Barron family, Father Converse commented: "The Barron family, Leo's children, and grandchildren have been faithful members of Our Lady of Lourdes Church for a very long time. I am pleased and overwhelmed by the generosity Leo has shown in the establishment of the Leo and Lorraine Barron Endowment Fund for the benefit of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Gales Ferry/Ledyard! The faithfulness of the Barron family will continue to grow in appreciation as their parish continues into the future." The Barron endowment will provide Our Lady of Lourdes with yearly income and will continue to do so forever. All Foundation monies are invested with Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors and overseen by the Investment Committee of the Foundation as well as the full board.
In order to continue its mission, the Foundation continues to work with people and organizations within the Diocese to establish more endowments. If interested in doing so, please contact Mary Ellen Mahoney, Development Manager, at (860) 886-1928 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the alternative, if one would like to support the Foundation, but not establish an endowment, individual donations are also accepted by the Foundation for any of its endowments.
Bishop Cote, Kerri Cherette, Leo Barron, Jeanne Knudsen and Father Brian Converse