An archdiocesan worker has been acknowledged by an area college for his dedication to these affected by poverty, homelessness and mental disabilities.
Kevin Barr of Catholic Social Providers (CSS) just lately acquired the “Spirit of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi Award” from Neumann College. The distinction is yearly bestowed on a graduate who lives out Catholic, Franciscan values by selling human dignity, intercultural understanding, peacemaking or take care of the setting.
Now in his second decade at CSS, Barr – the event director for the archdiocesan Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Windfall — mentioned he was “really grateful” for an accolade that highlighted his “ardour for Franciscan spirituality.”
However, he admitted, that fireplace was nearly doused earlier than it might begin, due to a sequence of misfortunes a long time earlier.
At Cardinal O’Hara Excessive Faculty, Barr had excelled in each soccer and baseball, securing a spot on the Lions’ All-Catholic crew in addition to a full baseball scholarship to Saint Joseph’s College. After turning the tassel on his mortarboard, he packed up and moved onto campus.
And nearly instantly regretted the choice.
“The entire dynamics felt off to start with,” he mentioned.
Certainly one of 11, Barr additionally discovered the shock of shifting from a big, loving house to a campus dormitory overwhelming; on high of that, he “missed soccer a lot.”
Fortuitously, Barr’s father – who had performed soccer for Pennsylvania State College – supported his son’s determination to switch to the College of Delaware and get again to the gridiron.
The brand new setting “simply didn’t work out” for Barr, and he left campus after two years to work on the docks at what was then the Scott Paper Firm in Chester.
“It was a heavy time for me,” mentioned Barr. “I used to be feeling like a loser, asking myself, ‘Why did I quit?’ and ‘What can I do to get again into faculty?’”
The unlikely reply got here from a nun at a close-by ladies’s school.
Barr had heard about a night program that was opening up at then-Our Woman of Angels School (now Neumann College) in Aston, which had been based just a few years earlier by the Sisters of St. Francis. The accelerated diploma program enabled college students to earn their bachelor’s diploma whereas accommodating childcare wants – and males have been invited to enroll.
School president Sister Madonna Marie Cunningham warmly welcomed the unlikely prospect.
“I used to be using up on my motorbike with my lengthy hair,” recalled Barr, who graduated from the faculty in 1979 – and as soon as once more discovered himself grappling with a darkish evening of the soul.
“I offered that motorbike to my brother,” he mentioned. “He was killed on it whereas his spouse was pregnant with their baby.”
The tragedy was “a catalyst” for Barr, one which spurred him to delve extra deeply into his religion. Impressed by the Franciscan based mostly non secular research programs supplied at Our Woman of the Angels, he sought a graduate diploma from the Faculty of Theological Research at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
“I needed to go to the Scripture, to the excellent news of the Gospel, to see how I might cope with (the loss),” mentioned Barr.
After his research, a males’s retreat deepened his religion nonetheless additional, and Barr left the enterprise world for CSS. Over time, he has advocated for impoverished Chester County residents, directed packages at St. John’s Hospice for males in homelessness, and – in his current place – supported women and men with mental disabilities.
Early in his CSS profession, he discovered that divine love shines via human wounds.
“I used to be an consumption employee in Chester County, and certainly one of my first encounters with a lady and her little daughter who had hardly any cash, and no transportation,” he mentioned. “Her boyfriend had dedicated suicide in entrance of her. And I used to be reminded of a Leonard Cohen track that claims, ‘There’s a crack in the whole lot; that’s how the sunshine will get in.’”
Barr sees such cracks as channels via which “God is flowing,” and carries that message in each his work and adjunct instructing at Neumann College, from which he additionally acquired a 2014 certification in non secular route.
“The spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare is honoring and seeing the whole lot as sacred,” mentioned Barr. “And in your vulnerability, there’s power.”