Graduation ceremonies never get old

Graduation ceremonies never get old
Shirley Barton with granddaughter, Ashlyn Barton, at her June 1 graduation from St. Matthew’s Catholic School.

You might say Shirley Barton, of Ortega Forest, is devoted to St. Matthew’s Catholic Church and School, and to her nine chil-dren, 23 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

On June 1, Barton attended her 18th eighth-grade graduation ceremony at the school, this time for granddaughter Ashlyn Barton. The ritual began in 1970, when Barton watched her oldest child, Elizabeth, graduate from the school. All of Barton’s nine children – Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Ellen, John, Michael, Mark, Catherine, Paul, and Teresa – are alumni of St. Matthew’s Catholic School, and the four sons’ nine children between them are as well.

The Barton family story began in September 1955 when Donald and Shirley Barton were married at Assumption Catholic Church, then raised their family as members of St. Matthew’s.

“We had nine children in 12 years. It was easier that way. School uniforms were passed down and the kids had the same friends. The not-so-easy part was having seven teenagers in the house at one time,” said Barton.

Getting nine children through Catholic school was not an easy task. Each morning uniform-clad kids made their way to the sock basket while their mother made breakfast to order. A favorite of one of the youngest was “soft spoiled eggs,” said Barton. Additionally, Shirley packed nine individual lunches each morning with a special picture drawn on each bag identifying the recipient. The family station wagon carried the children to school, with standing room only “in the well” for the last to arrive. 

Donald Barton, who passed away in June 2013, left a legacy of service to his family, who have followed in his footsteps. He was a former director of the St. Vincent’s Foundation, and he and Shirley were named Affiliates of the St. Vincent’s Daughters of Charity.

The extended Barton family continues as active members of the church and school. Shirley often attends daily mass and participates in many activities, such as the Prayer Blanket ministry. Sons Mark, John, Michael and Paul and their wives have contributed both as students and parents in countless hours of stewardship as altar servers, ministry members, sports team participants and coaches, Parent-Teacher Organization Board Members, Booster Club chair, Strategic Planning Committee members, as well as shooting videos of holidays and special events, teaching, and much more.

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