Sister Adrian Barrett, known for her charity work throughout the region, has died at age 86.
“She believed in taking care of the poorest of the poor from before their birth,” said Barrett’s cousin and former Scranton mayor James McNulty.
A nun with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Barrett died Monday morning at Our Lady of Peace retirement home in Scranton, McNulty said.
Barrett worked her entire life to improve the quality of life for the impoverished through her activities as both a community servant and political activist, her cousin said.
In 1986 she founded the Friends of the Poor, a nonprofit, volunteer-run charitable organization which works to provide those living in poverty with food, clothing and other basic needs.
In a post to Twitter Monday afternoon, Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton called Barrett “Scranton’s servant of the poor.”
“Adrian spent her life doing what the pope is instructing the church to do now,” McNulty said. “She was ahead of her time.”
In the past Barrett organized bus trips for children and their parents to Washington D.C. to visit the Capitol and museums, often to the excitement of both young and old. McNulty said the trips were examples of her commitment to keeping parents and children together.
As part of her service, Barrett often supported those in legal trouble, McNulty said, most recently attending court dates with women whose drug addictions fueled their criminal activity. At the hearings, Barrett would urge judges to keep parents and children together whenever splitting them up was avoidable.
She also ran summer day camps for children who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience the outdoors, McNulty said. But Barrett’s service did not stop with children and their parents.
“She never let a senior be alone for the holidays,” McNulty said, organizing dinners for the elderly on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Friends of the Poor carries on this legacy with senior holiday dinners and children’s after-school programs and trips.
Though Barrett’s charity work focused mostly in Scranton, she collaborated with a sister on an annual Christmas party for the troubled Sherman Hills apartment complex in Wilkes-Barre.
Speaking last year with the Times Leader, Barrett said the poor deserve dignity, and she promoted the worth of her cause.
“To work with the poor is a great gift,” Barrett said “The poor teach you a lot.”
Reach James O’Malley at 570-991-6390 or on Twitter @TL_omalley.