Living the Faith: Chris and Lori Barrett

WINCHESTER -- Getting to church every week isn’t always possible for the old and infirm, particularly during the harsh New England winter.

Losing touch with a beloved parish can be difficult. Parishioners at St. Mary’s Church in Winchester have come up with a way of bringing church to those who can’t attend Mass due to failing health.

Twice a month, parish volunteers bring Communion to the homebound. Unlike most other parishes, however, each volunteer is assigned to bring Communion to only one person. They pray together; they visit with each other; they form a strong friendship.

“We have seen that this is a way to bring the community to the person, not just to bring Communion to the person,” explained Lori Barrett, who is one of the parish volunteers.

“You develop such a great relationship with the person,” she added.

For the past seven years, Lori and her husband Chris Barrett have been bringing Communion to a homebound parishioner.

“They are always very happy to see you,” he said. “And it is a wonderful thing to be able to be with them in their final months of life.”

The ministry has made such an impact on Lori that three years ago she enrolled in the Pastoral Ministry Program at Boston College with the goal of becoming a hospital chaplain.

“God is inviting me into a deeper and deeper relationship with Him every day,” the stay-at-home mother of five said. “My desire is to be able to help a grieving family.”

Both Lori, 51, and Chris, 53, were raised in large Catholic families -- she is one of nine siblings, he one of ten. They became parishioners at St. Mary’s in 1986, where they have been involved as lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion. In addition, Lori was the librarian at the parish school, which four of their five daughters have attended since pre-school.

“The school is a gem,” said Lori. “As parents, you’re trying to raise your kids in the faith, and St. Mary’s school gives you the tools to do just that.”

Both Lori and Chris praised their pastor, Father Richard Messina, as well as the entire parish staff for creating a sense of community within the parish.

“They really bring out the fact that you’re worshipping with a community and not just by yourself and for yourself,” said Chris. “It’s like the parish becomes part of your family, which only strengthens and deepens your faith.”

Chris, who was named after Bishop Christopher Joseph Weldon, Bishop of Springfield during the 1950s, stressed that for him, faith is the “roadmap” to his life.

“It is my guide -- in every decision I do, in every decision I make,” he said.

St. Mary Parish, Winchester

Year established -- 1876

Pastor -- Father Richard Messina

Parochial Vicar -- Father Richard C. Beaulieu

Visiting Associate -- Father Richard A. McGowan, S.J.

Pastoral Associate, Director of Ministries -- Salvatore Caraviello

Pastoral Associate -- Sister Sonia Saenz, CDP

Music Director -- Jane O’Keefe

Business Manager -- Steve Ultrino

St. Mary’s School Principal -- Elaine O’Reilly

Nursing Home Outreach -- Father David Meskell, Sister Dorothy LeCam, SC