Among Woman 185: The Life of Ryan, with Mary Ellen Barrett

October 6, 2014

This week’s episode:

“Blessed are They”: St Anna Schaffer

“Among Women” Guest: Mary Ellen Barrett

This week we look at the difficult subject of losing a child to death. My guest, blogger and Long Island Catholic columnist Mary Ellen Barrett, reflects on the fifth anniversary since the death of Ryan, her 14 year old son who died during a camping trip. The search for Ryan, who at first was thought to be lost, went on for many hours. Many, including myself, were glued to the internet for news of him during that time. Listeners familiar with this event will be encouraged by the musings and memories of Mary Ellen, his mother. Those uninitiated will be blessed by the faith of this Long Island family.

Mary Ellen and Ryan Barrett

Mary Ellen and Ryan Barrett

Since this is Respect Life Month, Mary Ellen and I celebrate the life of Ryan — his Christian devotion even as a young boy with special needs — as well as the ups and downs that he faced in family life and elsewhere. We discuss the outpouring of support from near and far for this grieving family, plus offer tips for helping others facing a similar grief.

In our saint segment, I once again look at the life of St Anna Schaffer, whose life of prayer and acute physical suffering offers a witness to us for how to make our heartaches and pains a path of redemptive suffering.

Links for this episode:

Walk Humbly with Your God by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR

USCCB’s Respect Life webpage

Magnificat magazine

Mary Ellen Barrett’s blog: Tales from the Bonny Blue House 

Best blog posts or articles about Ryan:

Ryan Barrett

Ryan Barrett

The Only Gift I Can Give 

 The Triumph of the Cross 

Yup, He’s a Teenager 

 A Vocation for Ryan 

Almost Twelve

Catholic Digest article on grief from Mary Ellen Barrett: “Grief: Does it Ever End?”  

Seton Magazine article by Mary Ellen Barrett: “Life Gave Me A New Dream: My Autistic Son Ryan…”

LI Catholic articles from Mary Ellen Barrett

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFRs)

The Art of Loving God by St Francis de Sales

Other shows of related interest:

 AW 167: More on the life of St Anna Schaffer

AW 172: Grief educator Cheryl Amari with advice we call “Good Grief, God”

AW 129: Dealing with Miscarriage with author Karen Edmisten

AW 65: Talking with Catholic Chaplain Patti Harrison


Send your comments to Pat Gohn at, or to the Among Women podcast facebook page. Or find us on Twitter at @PatGohn or @among_women.

2 comments on “Among Woman 185: The Life of Ryan, with Mary Ellen Barrett

  1. Allison says:

    So inspiring to listen to, thank you for having MaryEllen on to tell her story of her beloved, Ryan. I too was even more emotional witnessing the response to prayer for the Barrett family 5 years ago and still. …the power and good of Catholic social media. God bless!

    1. Pat says:

      Amen! Thanks for stopping by to comment, Allison!

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