Mary Ellen Barrett is a Catholic writer and contributor to the Long Island Catholic newspaper. Her son, Ryan Barrett, 14 years old, had a seizure and drowned at the North-South Lake campground in Haines Falls. Last August 13, 2009, Ryan, his father and 6 year old brother arrived at the camping ground. This was an annual activity that these children were looking forward to do with several other families.
Mary Ellen Barrett is a great model of motherhood. From afar, I admire her articles and stance on many Catholic issues that pertains to our children. Having a brood of 8 children, I can very well understand her mission in life. Ryan is autistic and some history of seizures. However, Mary Ellen did not let his imperfection distract her from molding this boy to the “image and likeness” of God. Despite his quirks, Ryan dreams to be a humble servant of God.
The pain of the death of a child is inconceivable. Each time a son or daughter of mine disobeys us, we feel them dying to themselves. We try to revive them in their spiritual life, never giving up on them. In the death of a child, one becomes very human and feels the pain of utter loss.
As a Catholic woman filled with grace, Mary Ellen bounces back with resilience to be an example to all of us, especially to mothers. Her grief is understandable but the grace that emanates from her at this very critical time of her life is very “Mary-like”. It is the same grace that filled the Mother of Jesus, when her son suffered and died on the cross – the humble submission to God’s will and the peace that God provides.
Following is her email to those of us who went with her on this “journey of loss”. She was not alone. Thousands of us, united in prayer so that God will comfort and grant peace to their family. We prayed for Ryan. Mary Ellen and her family are shining examples of “obedience and resignation” to God’s will. Peace will reign in their hearts as they unite their loss to God’s everlasting plan.