"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

Associate Spotlight: Marti Barnes

By Associate Mary McHale

One of the wonderful benefits of being an Associate is the opportunity to meet so many special people who become a part of our lives, like our new friend, Marti Barnes. Marti is a warm, inviting woman that you just want to grab a cup of tea with and sink into a lovely conversation. We hit it off immediately; probably because she is a great listener and I’m a prolific talker. When I finally quieted, I was also able to realize her depth and wisdom. We first met at our small group—a lively group of Sisters and Associates that would meet monthly to discuss all things SC and the effects on our daily lives.

I did not know at the time but Marti and three of the other women in our group had been close friends for a long time. Over time I learned much about their lives and how they used the Charity Charism in their family and professional lives. I must admit I often felt uneasy. These women all worked for the Church, they all held degrees and were much better informed and knowledgeable. They were all very accepting of me and listened when I shared. The intimidation I felt was all mine. Meetings were held in the evenings. I lived in Kentucky and the night drive began to be a problem for me. So, I changed small groups, but I always treasured the friendships I had formed in that Monday night group.

When I was asked to submit a short article about Marti, I was delighted. Here was my chance to get reacquainted with my friend. I called her and immediately we were sharing as if we had stayed close friends all along. Plus, I was able to ask some questions about her life that I had always been inquisitive about. I was surprised to learn that Marti did not grow up in this area. She and her husband, Bob, grew up and were married in Buffalo, New York. They moved to this area in 1973 so that Bob could complete his law education at Chase Law. When they found job opportunities here that were not available back in Buffalo, they remained and made Cincinnati their home. Bob and Marti had four sons: Bob, Bill, Matt and Andy. They lived on the West Side of Cincinnati near St. William Church. Bob was Catholic and Marti Episcopalian. Marti had often considered becoming Catholic, but she did not act on that until 1992.

Fr. Phil Seher, who was pastor at St. William parish, and Sister of Charity Donna Steffen facilitated the RCIA at St. William. Marti was received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 1993. S. Claire Foken, another SC with whom Marti worked at St William, encouraged her and many others at the parish to become Associates of the Sisters of Charity. She made her commitment in 2001.

It was in the Associates that Marti became close friends with S. Mary Ann Humbert and Associates Mary Jo Mersmann and Maureen Maxfield, a relationship that earned them the nickname, “The Four Ms.” That year, 2001, was also the year when Marti’s most life-altering change occurred. Bob Barnes, Marti’s husband of 28 years, died suddenly of a massive stroke, leaving Marti a widow and the single parent to her four sons. Marti said the Sisters and Associates were lifesaving to her with their love and support during this time of grief and growth. That same year she was hired as a pastoral associate at St. John Neumann parish and continued her education at The Anthenaeum of Ohio, earning her master’s degree in pastoral ministry. Her next working move was to St. Joseph Church in the West End as business manager until 2006. There she ministered again with Fr. Phil Seher, as well as Fathers Pat Duffy and Joe Robinson. In 2006, Marti went to minister at St. Martin of Tours parish as pastoral associate. Marti loved this work, organizing many facets of parish life, including RCIA, infant Baptism prep, bereavement, guiding folks through the annulment process as well as other duties. She semi-retired in 2014 and did part-time ministry at St. William and later at St. Joseph, North Bend.

Marti continued to serve the Associates. She was on the Associate Advisory Committee for six years; she also was on the Seton Enablement Fund Advisory Committee for six years, the Spirituality Office Advisory Committee and has always belonged to her small group. Marti is retired now, but she continues as an Associate. She honors the Charity Charism through volunteering at St. William and of course with friends and family. Her sons have all married and now there are seven grandchildren, five girls and two boys. Marti is grateful that God has provided so many wonderful people that have supported and guided her through life. It seems like it is in our rearview mirror that we are most aware of God’s blessings   

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