After Sister Patricia Clare Barry retired from teaching, she took it upon herself to tutor a first-grade boy in Brooklyn.
The child had trouble learning to read. But, suddenly one day all of Barry’s patient tutoring clicked and the youngster discovered he could read. It was defining moment for him.
“I can read! I can read!,” the boy exulted as he ran down the school hallway, recalled Sister Jean Olsen, a close friend of Barry.
“I choked up,” Olsen recalled reacting to first hearing the story. “How beautiful it was.”
There was great deal in the life of Barry which her fellow nuns at the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville found to be beautiful. A devoted teacher, Barry had a thirst for learning which she used to her advantage in her 64 years in the religious life.
Barry, born in Brooklyn to Patrick and Frieda Barry, died March 28, the Monday after Easter, at the age of 84, according to officials at the order. She had been in declining health for a number of years and was cared for at Gurwin Jewish Nursing Home in Commack, the officials noted in the order’s obituary.
However, for much of her life, Barry relished knowledge and teaching, Olsen said.
“She taught history, religion and reading,” Olsen noted.
Barry entered the novitiate in Amityville in September 1951 and a year later took her habit and the name Sister M. Francis Magdalen. But after the Second Vatican Council, which modernized Roman Catholic Church practices, Barry returned to her baptismal name Patricia. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Barry pursued a master’s in social science at CUNY Richmond College in Staten Island and later received her master of divinity degree from Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
“These studies she put to good use in her ministry as the director of religious education in the parish of Notre Dame, New Hyde Park, and as pastoral service coordinator in St. Hugh Parish, Huntington Station,” according to the order’s obituary.
While at St. Hugh Parish, Barry found that her Spanish language skill came in handy in dealing with a changing parish population, according to her obituary
In her career as an educator, Barry taught at a number of area parish schools: St. Frances Cabrini, Brooklyn; Holy Redeemer, Freeport; Our Lady of Lourdes, Malverne; Cure of Ars, Merrick; Corpus Christi, Woodside; St. Mary Star of the Sea, Brooklyn; Our Lady of Solace, Brooklyn; St. Boniface, Elmont; and Sacred Heart, East Glendale.
“She was an excellent teacher,” Olsen said.
In the later years of her life, after she stopped teaching, Barry spent her time in intercessory prayer, which in the religious tradition means praying for others.
Services were held at St. Albert’s Chapel of the Motherhouse in Amityville and she was buried at the sisters’ cemetery.