Father Wayne Barron, C.M.F. (1932 - 2011)
Rev. Wayne J. Barron, C.M.F. died on Sunday, May 29th at his Claretian place of residence in Oak Park, Illinois. Wayne J. Barron, C.M.F., born on February 2, 1932 in St. Bride’s parish on the southeast side of Chicago, grew up in a family of eight children in St. Peter and Paul parish in South Chicago.
The son of William and Ethel (Kleefisch) Barron, he originally studied at Quigley Seminary, but moved on to the Claretians’ St. Jude Seminary in Momence, Illinois in 1947.
He made his first vows as a Claretian in 1950, his perpetual vows in 1954, and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Christina Church in Chicago by Bishop Joseph Preciado, C.M.F. on June 13, 1958.
In subsequent years, he served in a variety of ministries, including those in Claretian parishes in Chicago, New Jersey and Missouri. He was also a missionary in Guatemala, and fulfilled duties a chaplain for the police department in Chicago for eight years from 1970 to 1978. In Springfield, Missouri, he acted as chaplain for Discalced Carmelite nuns, for Mercy Villa, a nursing home for the aged, and for a local prison.
“I really enjoyed my Spanish ministry in New Jersey where I was stationed from 1978 to 1984, first as pastor of St. Anthony Claret Church in Lakewood and then as associate pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Perth Amboy,” he says. “I liked the people there, many of them Spanish-speaking immigrants on the lower rungs of the financial ladder who needed help in getting jobs and becoming a recognized force in the community.”
He strove to inspire pride in newly arrived parishioners and encourage them to be active in the process of local government.
His work as a police chaplain serving city and county law enforcement officers proved to be a challenging ministry. At the time of his assignment as a chaplain in 1970, he was stationed at St. Francis of Assisi Church on the near south side of Chicago, not far from the downtown area. His duties included attending wakes for members of each officer’s immediate family, teaching ethics classes to police trainees, providing spiritual counseling, visiting officers in hospitals, and giving last rites.
There was one call for him he says he will never forget. A police officer had been shot and killed when confronting a young male during a holdup. Barron raced to South Shore Hospital where the officer had been taken.
“It was a terrible shock when I discovered the officer was my youngest brother,” he recalls.
After his ordination, Barron was assigned to teach English and Latin at the Claretian school for brother candidates in Peru, Illinois. He then ministered at St. Francis of Assisi in 1963-1964 and Our Lady of Fatima in 1965-1966. After a break because doctors feared he had tuberculosis, he did missionary work in Entre Rios and Santo Tomas in Guatemala in 1968-1969.
Once more, he served at St. Francis of Assisi in 1970-1971, and then at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Chicago’s south side in 1971-1972. Following his stay in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, he became an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Poplar Bluff, Missouri where he also acted as a chaplain at a nearby prison from 1984 to 1989.
He finished his active ministry, working in Springfield, Missouri from 1990 to 2003. His commitment to Mercy Villa in Springfield included the offering of daily Mass and individual visits to elderly residents of the nursing home. “He was an inspiration to the Mercy Villa staff,” according to Julie Pettyjohn, another chaplain at the facility.