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A Church-Centered Life

The busy Barrios family keeps faith in forefront

By John Burger

Providence has played a central role for Darryl and Anne Barrios during their 22 years of marriage. Although the blessings have not always been evident at the time, the couple can look back and see God’s hand in their lives.

They think of the devastating days of Hurricane Katrina. The mega-storm that slammed into the Gulf Coast just over 10 years ago left some 1,800 people dead and caused $108 billion in property damage. The Barrios’ lost their home in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans, but they and their three young children survived. Fortunately, friends in Alabama invited the family to stay with them while the Gulf Coast recovered.

The family packed up and headed northeast with heavy hearts, and discovered that the remote, mountainous area where they stayed did not have television reception or cable. It was a blessing in disguise, however, since the children were shielded from round-the-clock news coverage of Katrina that would have upset them. Instead, they spent their time with horses and cats, and ran free on a large plot of land.

With Hurricane Rita following Katrina, it was almost two months before they got back home. But Barrios kept one blessing in mind: the family was still intact.

He also had a Knights of Columbus family look after, as grand knight of Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel Council 5747 in Chalmette, just outside New Orleans. With laptop and cellphone, Barrios set out to account for all 325 council members, as well as widows and teen Squires. It took him six months, but he tracked down about 95% of the Knights’ community. Some were back home, some were displaced. A few, sadly, had been killed by the storm, including one man who succumbed to stress.

"These were people I knew personally and cared about," he told a local newspaper at the time. "I wanted to make sure that they were safe."

The family moved to Houma, La., where Darryl belongs to Immacolata Council 13819. At the 2015 Supreme Convention in Philadelphia, the Barrios family was named a runner-up for the International Family of the Year award. The honor took Darryl by surprise.

“The way I look at it, we don’t do anything special; we’re just really busy,” he said. “We’re involved with our kids’ schools; we’re involved in our church; we’re involved in Scouts; we’re involved in the community. But we’re not like some of these people we see who start big foundations or adopt 10 kids. We’re just a family that does a lot together and is active in the community.”

Anne is a high school science teacher. Darryl is a travel agent. The couple met at Louisiana State University.

“We were both in Kappa Kappa Psi, the band fraternity, at college,” Darryl explained. They married in June of 1993.

Although their parents were able to see them get married, Darryl’s mother passed away not long after the wedding, succumbing to cancer at age 48. ┬áIt was a turning point in his faith life, and another providential moment.

He recalled, “It awoke something in me where I said, ‘There’s got to be more than what I’m doing right now.’ It was at that point where my religion became more important to me because I could see how life was fragile and you never know when stuff is going to happen.”

A year later, the Barrios’ first child, Dylan, was born. “Those two major life experiences gave me the kick in the butt to get fully engaged with my faith,” Barrios admitted.

Dylan’s birth was followed four years later by the birth of twins, Kathleen and Jennifer.

Today, all three children are involved in numerous school clubs as well as bands. Dylan, 19, is working and going back to college after some time off. Now a Knight, he was a charter member of his Columbian Squires circle and served as Chief Squire.

Kathleen, 15, studies at a boarding school for high-achieving youth, while her twin, Jennifer, attends the local high school and is an altar server.

All of the children inherited their parents’ musical talent. Kathleen sings in a chorale at school and in the church choir when she’s home. Jennifer is in concert and marching bands. The entire family is in the Houma-Terrebonne Community Band.

They’re also all active in the parish. Darryl is a lector and a member of the youth group committee, while Anne is involved in organizing the altar servers, teaches CCD and RCIA classes, and is an extraordinary minister of Communion.

“While we are extremely busy as a family, we do make sure we take time for prayer,” Darryl pointed out.

They are also active in pro-life work. Darryl and Anne were the first chaircouple of their K of C council’s Culture of Life program.

“We started the baby bottle campaign to help the local crisis pregnancy center,” he said. “We helped them purchase an ultrasound machine, a year before Supreme rolled out the ultrasound initiative. The money we raised helped put the pregnancy center over the top.”

"We've always been involved in our church and our community, and the Knights are the type of organization that allows us to bring it all together into one place," Darryl said.

John Burger is news editor of Aleteia.org