The Broken Heart Finds a Home

By Melanie Williams (Oct 20, 2016)
Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Who are they, and what draws them here? The following is the latest in our "Pilgrims Progress" series. Meet Barbara Carr:

More than 50 years since marrying a man who said, "It's either God or me," Barbara Carr has made it home to the Catholic Church.

Born in Pasadena, California, Barbara described herself as a Protestant "drop off" kid. Her parents would drop her off at Church on Sundays, but they wanted nothing to do with it. In junior high school, Barbara met her "puppy love" boyfriend, Steve, who was Catholic. He went to an all-boy's Catholic school, and Barbara would often go to visit him and meet with the Catholic priest, Fr. Enda.

In high school, Barbara began dating Jay, a senior at her school. When Jay went to college, she decided she wanted to become Catholic. She told her mother and Jay, and they both were completely against it. Barbara's mother took her to every Protestant church in the area hoping it would make her give up her desire to become Catholic. Jay told her, "It's either God or me, Barbara." Barbara chose Jay.

She decided to attend San Jose State University, in California, to be near Jay at Stanford. Steve surprised Barbara by showing up as a student at San Jose as well, but Barbara was "pinned" to Jay before Christmas and married the following September.

Jay joined the Navy and flew over Vietnam. While in the service, Jay had a stop in Alaska and was taken away by the beauty of it. Barbara and Jay decided to move to Halibut Cove, Alaska in 1973, and they built a log house in the wilderness. They homeschooled their daughter, Lisa, and enjoyed life by the ocean. Barbara had studied art and began making jewelry and paintings, and she also write poems.

In 1981, after 19 years of marriage, Jay and Barbara divorced. Devastated, Barbara moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, with Lisa who was going into high school. Barbara called up her old friend Steve and asked him, "Do we still believe that Catholic stuff?" Steve said he did. Barbara didn't take her spiritual curiosity any further, closing instead to live a secular life.

Barbara moved to Connecticut in 1986, and from 1989 to 1991 Lisa attended Rhode Island School of Design to study architecture. In 1989, Barbara married someone she met in Connecticut, J. Revell Carr. They were married in an Episcopalian ceremony but lived a secular life.

Married 19 years, in 2008, Barbara went through another painful divorce. With a broken heart, she tried to reconnect with the Episcopal Church but could not find what she longed for. She remembered learning about Holy Communion from Fr. Enda as a young girl, and she came to realize that she yearned for it. She knew that Episcopalians did not believe that Communion was the Real Presence of Christ.

Moving back to Crested Butte, Colorado, Barbara was led to a Catholic priest. She began meeting with him once a week, and it turned into a personal RCIA. She finally was able to embrace what she longed for as a girl, but was led away from for so many years. On Sept. 22, 2013, Barbara was Confirmed and received Holy Communion. This was a very joyful time for Barbara after so many years of hardship! Wanting to give her whole self over to Christ, she decided to make a personal vow to Christ on Aug. 12, 2014.

Moving yet again, this time to Portland, Maine in Aug. 2015, Barbara became an active parishioner at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and renewed her vow. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Barbara went on a group pilgrimage to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge. She attended the 2 p.m. Mass and was struck in the heart by the priest's homily. After Mass, in tears, she stayed behind in the church and said out loud to God, "I never wanted to leave this place." She realized that God was calling her to move again.

That's just what Barbara did. In Sept. 2016, Barbara followed the call of the Lord on her heart and moved to Stockbridge to be near the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. She attends daily Mass at the Shrine and joins the Marian Fathers for evening prayer every day. Just recently, she was able to renew her vow a third time with the Marian priest whose homily began the call on her heart to move to the Shrine.

Barbara said, "I was always Catholic in my heart, all these 50 years, but I buried my love and longing for Jesus so deep that I could not live it. Now my devotion to Christ increases every day — every day I consider a blessing."

Barbara is an artist and a poet. We would like to share with you one of her poems:


the silence is speaking

to the stars shine
to the moon rise
to the sun set

snow falling on snow
wind caressing air
rain soaking teardrops

angel wings nearby
heart's desire
the path forward

like the first day
like the last moment
like life depended on it

not nothing

not no one

The silence is speaking

Dec. 14, 2007

Come make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.