Family Fully Alive Articles


A Family in Full

Service to others comes naturally to Barnes family

By Jason Godin

If St. James Council 4557 and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Winnipeg had to make posters recognizing models of service and leadership, the faces of Frank and Elianne Barnes – the 2014 Manitoba State Family of the Year – would certainly be on them.

Frank finds that many valuable lessons he learned from his 35 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force still apply in his heavy involvement with the Knights of Columbus and local parish community. In addition to teamwork and reliability remaining applicable practices, he takes as much pride today wearing his Knights of Columbus name tag and council vest as when he wore his military uniform. “People notice these things and ask questions,” Frank noted, “which, in the long run, helps with recruiting.” And having served for so long “at many different jobs” and “for many different superiors” in the armed forces, Frank sees continuity in loyally “supporting many different priests” and “defending Catholic values.”

His wife of 50 years encourages these values. Elianne and Frank often work side-by-side during spaghetti dinners, barbeque fundraisers and Mother’s Day tea. She organizes the kitchen crew, in fact, for all parish functions. Coffee and donuts after weekend Masses, sandwiches for Tuesday bingo nights and funeral luncheons – all benefit from her directing touch.

“No matter how organized we men think we are,” Frank added, “we always need a lady’s touch to ensure the fine details are not overlooked.”

The Barnes’ attention to details is much appreciated by parishioners and priests alike. Father José Eduardo Medeiros, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, has “come to depend” on Frank and Elianne’s “leadership, fidelity and generosity” since his arrival in August 2010. He credits both as enriching examples for him, both as their pastor and friend. He also says that the quality of parish life at St. Paul the Apostle depends greatly by their active participation. He recalls that Frank has saved the parish thousands of dollars over the years by performing rectory maintenance.

Service and leadership also appear to have passed on to the next generations of the family. In addition to working as an area sales manager for a bank, Frank and Elianne’s son, Phil, has remained active for ten years as a coach and board member in a regional youth hockey league. Their eldest daughter, Cindy, is a remedial massage therapist who has helped coach girls’ softball with her husband. Their youngest daughter, Joelle, is a team performance leader for a life insurance company. And their five grandchildren – Danton, Danica, Lorissa, Dax and Cassidy – have shown interest in helping younger children.

When receiving the 2014 Family of the Year Award, the presenter recognized Frank as “truly the face of the Knights of Columbus at St. Paul the Apostle” and Elianne as “not to be outdone.” Indeed, along with their children and grandchildren, they’re the true faces of active engagement, leading models to follow in service to others.

Jason Godin is associate editor of Fathers for Good.