In Memoriam

(1924 - 2023)

In May 2002, Sister John Norton Barrett was honored by the St. Thomas More Society in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy Award. Local attorney James D. Camp III, making the presentation at the society’s annual Red Mass Reception, said in his remarks:

Someone once said that 100 years from now, it will not matter what kind of car we drove or what was in our bank account, but 100 years from now the world may be a better place because we were important in the life of children. Sister, there are numerous lawyers here, including myself, who you personally taught, counseled, disciplined, loved and, ultimately, assisted in our graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and we are honored to have been one of your students. Those lawyers, many of whom are in this room tonight, along with the entire St. Thomas More Society, would like you to know this evening that, at a critical point in our young lives, as future lawyers, and in the lives of countless other students, we are grateful that you were important to us.

Catherine Elizabeth Barrett, the future Sister John Norton, was born in Detroit on December 18, 1924, to Edward and Marianne (“Minnie”) Norton Barrett. Edward, who made his living as an electrician, was a Detroit native, while Minnie was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Catherine was the fifth of seven children, all the rest of whom were boys: John Norton, Edward, Allan, James, Robert, and Ralph. John Norton died of pneumonia when Catherine was a sophomore in high school, and it was his name that Catherine would take in religious life.

In her autobiography, Sister John Norton remembered her Depression-era childhood as a simple one in a neighborhood with many children in it. She and her brothers all attended St. Catherine School, where they were educated by the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters from Monroe, Michigan, and she graduated from St. Catherine High School in 1942.

An inclination toward religious life was put on hold as she went to work, first for the J.L. Hudson Co. for a short time and then for Metropolitan Life Insurance. A year after Catherine took the Metropolitan Life Insurance job, Minnie had a serious stroke and Catherine left her position in order to look after the household duties. At some point during this time, she took a part-time job working weekends as a salesperson for Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Read more about Sister John Norton (PDF)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 



Memorial Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas High School

On Saturday, April 1, 2023, a memorial Mass for Sister John Norton Barrett was hosted at St Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Sister John Norton was Principal for 50 years. The video recording is now available for viewing. The liturgy begins at the 12-minute mark.


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