Project Canterbury

Impressions and Opinions: An Autobiography
By J.G.H. Barry, D.D.
Rector Emeritus, Church of S. Mary the Virgin, New York.

New York: E.S. Gorham, 1931.


Memories of days that have been! How different they sometimes seem when viewed from the present; some sweet, some sad. Yet we would not part willingly with the memories of either.

How beautiful was the fading day with the sun still showing its last gleams and with a gentle peace that was the prelude to the coming night. It was after the evening meal, and we had gathered on the terrace to enjoy the beauty of the parting day, chatting more or less on general subjects, when someone remarked: "I wonder if anyone knew that he was going to die within a certain time, would it not cause some worry and nervousness." There was a pause in the conversation and Dr. Barry replied quietly that it would make no difference to him. We questioned the possibility of its having so little effect, but were met with the quiet and steady assurance that there was no need for either fear or nervousness. "For why should there be?" Dr. Barry continued. "My work as a priest and rector is ended, and with the completion of the last chapter of my autobiography, I have completed my writings. There is practically nothing more for me to do and I am ready to go. To-day I have made my confession and if I am going to die I am prepared."

These words were calmly and thoughtfully said, and the speaker smiled when we did not take his remark seriously. Why should we when he seemed so well and capable, for had he not planned for a Mass for the following morning that would be followed later by a motor trip to Kent? Dr. Barry was a great lover of music, and shortly after the foregoing conversation it was suggested that we listen to some of Victor Herbert's melodies. This we did for about an hour and then, following his usual custom of retiring early, Dr. Barry arose with the remark: "I think I have enjoyed enough for one evening and shall retire." Little did we realize that as he departed it was for the last time, for the following morning he had in reality finished his work.

With us still continue the thoughts of the many happy days and evenings that he spent with us in the home he loved and had so large a part in creating. His work was indeed finished, but it has built a firm foundation upon which time will erect a lasting monument to his memory.


Project Canterbury