Father Barry
Father Barry
Father Paul J. Barry, the retired archivist for the Archdiocese of Washington and a priest for nearly 65 years, died Jan. 14 at Carroll Manor Nursing Home in Northeast Washington. He was 92 years old.

He was remembered at his Jan. 18 funeral Mass as a man of "great literary scholarship" who was "devoted absolutely to Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Lady."

"Paul loved the prose of Shakespeare that he could quote just like that," said Msgr. Karl Chimiak, pastor of St. George Church in Valley Lee and a longtime friend of Father Barry. Noting that Father Barry loved being a priest, Msgr. Chimiak said "his (Father Barry's) hands absolved, consecrated, anointed and buried the dead."

Msgr. Chimiak said Father Barry's favorite poem, which he had memorized, was "The Hound of Heaven," written in 1893 by Francis Thompson. It's theme is that only God's love can satisfy a longing heart and provide true happiness.

Msgr. Chimiak was the homilist at the funeral that was celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, at St. Bernardine of Sienna Church in Suitland.

Born July 11, 1920 in Washington, Father Barry was raised in Capitol Heights. He attended the Marist Novitiate in New York and Marist College in Washington, and in 1948 was ordained a priest of the Society of Mary (Marists).

"He was just a regular boy from Capitol Heights who went on to earn a Ph.D. in library sciences and a licentiate in sacred theology, yet he remained a humble, holy priest," Msgr. Chimiak said.

After his ordination, Father Barry served as a parochial vicar at a Marist-staffed parish in West Virginia. In 1949, he was named spiritual director and librarian at Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette, La., a post he held for 10 years.

In 1959, Father Barry was transferred to Rome, where he served as librarian, archivist and secretary at the Marist Generalate. In 1962, he returned to Marist College in Washington, where he served as a teacher and librarian. In 1964 and 1965, he served as principal at Marist-sponsored high schools in Georgia and Ohio.

Father Barry returned to Rome in 1965, serving as vice rector of the Marist International Scholasticate and as archivist and librarian at his order's Generalate. He also began doctoral studies at the Angelicum University.

In 1970, he returned to the United States, serving as vice principal of the Marist School in Atlanta, Ga., and then a year later serving as rector of Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette.

Msgr. Chimiak said Father Barry loved teaching because "he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others. What he received as a gift, he gave as a gift."

Father Barry returned to the Archdiocese of Washington in 1972, when he was named parochial vicar at St. Bernardine of Siena Church in Suitland. In 1973, he was incardinated as a priest of this archdiocese.

"Paul was a world traveler who loved to learn, but he always returned to his humble home to take care of his elderly mom," Msgr. Chimiak said.

From 1974 to 1982, he served in the archdiocesan Tribunal while serving at various times as a parochial vicar at St. Catherine Labouré Parish in Wheaton, Epiphany Parish in Washington, St. Bernardine of Sienna Parish in Suitland and St. Ignatius Parish in Oxon Hill.

In 1982, he was named archivist for the Archdiocese of Washington, a post he held until his retirement in 1989.

Prior to moving to Carroll Manor Nursing Home, he resided after retirement at his family home in Capitol Heights. There, he pursed his interests in art and gardening. As an artist, Father Barry worked in a variety of media, including pen and ink, printmaking, watercolors, wood carving and stained glass. As a horticulturist, he won several local awards for his garden of azaleas, boxwood and dogwoods. He was also a gourmet cook.

"Paul was a born teacher but a student still," Msgr. Chimiak said. "He was always thirsting for knowledge. He was not afraid of death - he knew he would forever sit at the feet of Christ the teacher."

Father Barry was predeceased by his parents, Annie and Anthony Barry, and his two brothers, William and Anthony. He is survived by seven nieces and nephews. He was interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Carroll Manor Nursing Home, c/o Providence Hospital, 725 Buchanan Street, N.E, Washington, D.C., 20017.