Anne-Marie Welsh

Bishop Lawrence Persico presents the decree he issued
opening the cause for canonization of Dr. Gertrude A.
Barber to friends, family and clients at the Barber National

In a room brimming mostly with the adults, children and families of people who have benefited from the faith-driven vision and commitment of Dr. Gertrude A. Barber, the Most Rev. Lawrence Persico, bishop of Erie, announced he has opened the cause for her possible canonization to sainthood.

"I know we all are thrilled to be part of this historic moment," Bishop Persico said. "But I am particularly pleased that the good work of Dr. Barber, undertaken on behalf of those in need, will now be known more fully by those throughout our region and beyond."

The full release detailing the announcement can be found at Additional information, including details about how to support the cause, has now been posted at

Considerable speculation had occurred as the Barber National Institute indicated last week it was preparing to make an important announcement in collaboration with the Diocese of Erie. An audible gasp among those present and spontaneous applause upon the announcement filled the room upon finally hearing the news.

Bishop Persico established the Association for the

Bishop Persico speaks with a supporter of Dr. Barber
immediately following the news conference announcing
he has opened the cause for her canonization.
Photos by Anne-Marie Welsh

Cause of Gertrude A. Barber, a public association of the faithful, in August 2019. The association submitted a petition for the cause in October, and he issued the decree granting that petition and opening the cause on Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Monsignor Thomas McSweeney, former director of the Office of Evangelization for Communications, has been named as diocesan postulator for the cause, and will help guide the association through the first steps of the investigations. Those interested in providing testimony concerning Dr. Barber can arrange for an interview with him at 814.878.5953.

Bishop Persico reminded those present at the announcement that the church thinks in terms of centuries.

"To be very honest with you, this is likely the beginning of a decades-long effort," he said. "So let us take tremendous joy in this wonderful moment today, one that we shall surely rememer for the rest of our lives. May we use it to find inspiration in the work each of us has been called to carry out in our daily lives."