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Brother Mathias Barrett

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Brother Mathias was born Maurice Patrick Barrett in Waterford, Ireland, on March 15, 1900.  When he was 14, Mathias returned home from school and announced that he intended to join a community of brothers. Following a series of delays and compromises, at 16 he finally boarded a Dublin-bound train to start a journey that would lead him to the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God and travelling to France, Canada, Ireland and the United States.

In 1934, Mathias was appointed provincial superior of the newly established province of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, and in 14 years he helped establish five institutions: a refuge serving the needs of 200 men; a hospital with 500 beds; a soup kitchen; a home for epileptics; and a convalescent home for 75 patients. In 1941 Mathias travelled to Los Angeles and spent the next nine years establishing hospitals, nursing homes and night shelters in and around Boston and Los Angeles.

The circumstances of his life allowed him to experience alienation, misunderstanding and rejection. His sometimes spontaneous response to an obvious human need was unnerving and unsettling. Confusion and misunderstanding eventually led to his dispensation in September 1950, severing his ties to the Hospitaller community.

Brother Mathias founded the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd in 1951, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He expanded his ministry to Hamilton ON in 1961 at the request of Bishop Joseph Ryan. Good Shepherd began as a small hostel for destitute and homeless men.

Brother Mathias died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on August 12, 1990 at the age of 90.

Today, thanks to the perseverance of the Brothers and the generosity of the community, Good Shepherd is a leading provider of health and human services to vulnerable men, women, youth, children and families in Hamilton.

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