Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana

Closing Gaps While Building Bridges of Faith


Even though she hails from Dublin, Ireland, Sister Bernadette “Bernie” Barrett is perfectly at home in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Lake Providence is one of the poorest areas in the country. Over 40% of the residents have incomes below poverty level and are predominantly African Americans of the Baptist faith.

But this makes Sister Bernie give even more of herself. Her life of service and passion for social justice are powered by her faith. Throughout the area, she is known as a bridge between multiple cultures: a bridge between the wealthy and the marginalized, between the African American and Caucasian communities, between different faith denominations, and between the people and elected officials. Most of all, she has helped build responsible social action, collaboration, and respect in the “poorest place in America.”

Her involvement in various civic organizations has helped make inroads for those who are most in need throughout the East Carroll Parish. Most notably, Sister Bernie is developing a community organization called Delta Cluster Interfaith to work on social issues, develop leaders and work across race, class, economic, social and denominational lines. Through her tireless example and steadfast faith, she shows everyone in her parish that they do have the power to change their predicaments and that they can improve their lives when they are active in finding a solution.

“While changing entrenched poverty is difficult, Sister Bernie has truly made a difference for the poorest in Lake Providence,” said Rev. Mark Watson. “I believe future change will continue to result from her ministry.”