Father William M. Barrett died Sept. 5, 2022. He was 89.
A Rochester native, Father Barrett belonged to Blessed Sacrament Parish when he was a child. He attended high school at St. Andrew’s Minor Seminary in Rochester and went on to study for the priesthood at St. Bernard’s Seminary, also in Rochester.
Father Barrett was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1959, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. After ordination, he served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Elmira (1959-62), St. Joseph Parish in Wayland (1962-65), St. Monica Parish in Rochester (1965-67) and St. Alphonsus Parish in Auburn (1968-70).
In 1970, he became the Catholic chaplain at the Newark State School, a residential facility that later became known as the Newark Developmental Center. He was chaplain there until 1979, when he left Newark to return to St. Monica Parish. There he took on his first pastorate, and remained there until 1985, when he became pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Dryden.
Father Barrett served as pastor at Holy Cross until he returned to Wayne County in 1993, this time as pastor at St. Michael Parish in Lyons. He served at St. Michael until he reached senior status in 2002. He then moved to Chautauqua County, where he assisted for many years at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Mayville.
Father Barrett was very involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter, noted Patricia Albrecht, former pastoral associate at St. Michael Parish. She met Father Barrett through her own involvement with Worldwide Marriage Encounter and was struck by his “openness, his gentle heart and his listening ear.”
“He was golden. He was just such a gentle spirit,” Albrecht said.
Father Barrett was a very compassionate person, added Andy Cherre, who met Father Barrett during the priest’s first stint at St. Monica Parish in the 1960s. Father Barrett was a wonderful confessor who had a knack for quieting a penitent’s nerves and providing thoughtful guidance, said Cherre, who remained close friends with Father Barrett through the years.
“He was just a very calm, understanding person who made anybody feel at ease,” Cherre remarked.
“He was always very pleasant. He was a good listener, and very kind,” agreed Father Richard Brickler, who was several years behind Father Barrett at St. Bernard’s Seminary.
Father Barrett is survived by his sister, Ann Walsh.
Father Barrett will lie in state Sept. 10, 2022, from 9 to 10 a.m. at St. Mary of Lourdes Church, 22 E. Chautauqua St. in Mayville. His funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m.