This afternoon, January 3, 2013, Dr. Mary Rose Barral’s Funeral Mass was said in Erie’s St. Peter’s Cathedral.
The altar was resplendent with red poinsettias and evergreens for the Christmas season – something Dr. Barral would have appreciated. Wherever she lived, her surroundings were filled with plants. Each spring, Dr. Barral’s apartment entrance on West 10th would boast a mass of dark purple iris. Earlier in her career, Barral taught piano; she would have been grateful that at her funeral, the organist’s music and the solosist’s voice were equal to the glorious architecture.
Dr. Barral earned her BS, MA and PhD in philosophy at Fordham University and later studied at the Sorbonne, the University of Milan and the Mediterranean University of Nice. She is the author of 4 books and 45 articles.
Barral was an active member of many national and international societies. She organized World Congresses in Argentina, Canada, England, Puerto Rico and Russia. She was a supporter of many worthy organizations including Save the Children, United Way, and locally HANDS, the Emmaus Soup Kitchen, City mission and others. Barral taught at Edinboro University of PA; John Hopkins University, MD; Loyola University, MD; Seton Hall University, NJ; and Youngstown State University, OH. At Gannon University in downtown Erie, PA, Dr. Barral was the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy.
Though fewer than two dozen worshipers participated, Dr. Barral’s devotion to teaching, writing and her faith resulted in three priests jointly serving Mass including Monsignor William Biebel and Monsignor Richard Sullivan. In his homily, Monsignor Biebel said there was “nothing gray” about Dr. Barral’s strong opinions – many of which were published as letters to the editor in the Erie Times News. Biebel told us that Barral studied, wrote about and taught, “speculative philosophy.” She was deeply concerned with humanistic and ecological issues. Biebel commented that though Barral was childless, that she was the “mother” of the “minds” of her students. He paraphrased the biblical reading saying that because of her achievement in teaching she will “shine like the stars.”
Seven years ago, Dr. Barral tried to help save the Villa Chapel. On September 17, 2006, with the chapel as a backdrop (above) Dr. Barral delivered a lecture exploring stewardship as a philosophical imperative rooted in our physical being. Barral explained to her audience that our physical knowledge of the world tells us WHERE we are. She challenged residents of Erie to embrace the heritage of our built environment because we need to know both where, and who, we are.
Dr. Barral will be buried in her hometown of Orbassano, Italy. Goodbye Dr. Barral and thank you.