LEFT: Brother Mathias Barrett, the 1985 Lumen Christi Award recipient.
RIGHT: Brother Mathias at the Good Shepherd Refuge in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one of the many shelters he helped found.
"“I Slept on Newspapers and Gunny Sacks”"
Brother Mathias spent more than 70 years serving the poor and disenfranchised. A native of Ireland, he joined the Brothers of St. John of the Cross there at age 15. After ten years of serving in hospitals in Ireland and France, he was sent to Canada, where he set up his first shelter for transients in an abandoned Montreal brewery. “I slept on newspapers and gunny sacks with the men at first,” said Brother Mathias. “In the mornings, I’d beg for food in the open market.” In 1941, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Brother Mathias came to the United States, where he began establishing shelters for the homeless and troubled youths.
In 1951, he established his own order in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was called the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd. Over the next four decades, he would go on to found scores of “Good Shepherd” shelters for the homeless, the aged, the mentally and physically disabled – men, women and children – in cities across the country. In 1985, despite near blindness from glaucoma and the necessity of a cane, he remained active in his ministry.
Postscript: Brother Mathias Barrett died in 1990.