Wedding’s backstory is winding path

By Paul McMullen

Twitter: @ReviewMcMullen

Kim Barbera worshiped at several parishes in northern Anne Arundel County, and attended Monsignor Slade Catholic School in Glen Burnie and Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville.

Her newlywed husband, Joe, hails from a large family that is part of the fabric at St. Louis Parish in Clarksville. He attended its parish school, and then Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.

They met in 2002, as participants in a retreat for young Catholics.

The two re-connected nearly a decade later, and romance blossomed. When Kim said yes to Joe’s proposal of marriage, the location of their wedding was a given, despite a history that had taken them throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

“There was never a doubt,” said Michelle Moore, Kim’s mother, “that they were going to be married at St. Alphonsus.”

Roots in old country

The story of Joe and Kim Barbera resembles a “matryoshka,” a Russian nesting doll. Lift the lid off one doll, and another, equally ornate, is unveiled.

Russia, of course, was the center of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. One of its satellites was Lithuania, which in 1990, after nearly a half-century of Soviet rule, became the first to reclaim its independence, a key moment in the end of the Cold War.

While Lithuania and its 3 million people can’t lay claim to producing a pope, it is nearly as Catholic as Poland, its neighbor to the south.

Boleslaw Maizrimas migrated from Lithuania to Baltimore around 1905, according to Beverly Fulcher Collins, a second cousin to Kim and her extended family’s genealogist. He married Mariam Puodjiukaitis, a girl from the old country, Jan. 30, 1916, at what is now the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori.

The young couple took the Americanized names of John and Mary Moore, and owned a grocery and butcher shop on Portland Street, midway between today’s Inner Harbor and Oriole Park.

Shortly after their wedding, according to a parish history of St. Alphonsus, the church begun in 1845 ended its mission as a Redemptorist-run community for Germans and shifted its ministry to the Lithuanian community.

Leslie, one of their sons, married Eleanor Kurelaitis, a young woman from the parish, at St. Alphonsus Oct. 16, 1938. Rick, the youngest of their three children, was born in 1959, and despite growing up in Baltimore Highlands, attended the parish school at St. Alphonsus.

Its student body was relatively small, so first- and second-graders studied together, and so on, through the seventh- and eighth-grade classroom. Every time Rick was in an even-numbered grade, the classroom included a girl a year younger, Michelle Derrenberger.

“Our moms were friends, and both of them spoke Lithuanian,” said Michelle, whose maternal grandfather had been a sexton at St. Alphonsus. “At our Christmas pageant and graduation, we sang songs in Lithuanian and English. I can still recite the Hail Mary and Our Father in Lithuanian.

“Bingo, bull roasts, Sodality, we got dragged along to St. Alphonsus.”

Neither of the two ever dated anyone else, and Michelle wed Rick Moore Oct. 3, 1981, at St. Alphonsus.

Rick and Michelle had their children, Kim and Eric, baptized at St. Alphonsus, where Sunday 8:30 a.m. is still the Lithuanian Mass.

A substantial number of Moore family relatives gather monthly for a group birthday celebration. They are regulars at the annual Lithuanian Festival of Baltimore, and Christmas toasts include homemade vititus.

‘Thought he was cute’

In 2002, the same year St. Alphonsus-Basilica School closed, Rick and Michelle’s daughter Kim was among the youths participating in the archdiocese’s high school leadership institute (HighLI) at the Monsignor O’Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks.

Representing Holy Trinity in Glen Burnie, she was attracted to a guy from Howard County.

“Most of the girls thought he (Joe Barbera) was cute,” Kim said. “I finagled my way to sit next him for a photo.”

Kim Moore “finagled” her way next to Joe Barbera at the 2002 HighLi retreat
for archdiocesan youths. (Courtesy Kim Barbera)

Only two miles separated their high schools, all-girls Mount de Sales and all-boys Mount St. Joseph, and they spent the same four years at the University of Maryland College Park, but they never had a serious conversation until 2011, when he spotted her on Ostend Street with another guy after a Baltimore Ravens’ preseason game.

Two years later, he proposed.

“He took me to Federal Hill, and picked the bench with the ugliest view,” Kim said. “He chose that one because no one else was around. Obviously, I said yes.”

And he agreed to her request to be wed at St. Alphonsus – just like her mom and dad, and grandparents, and great-grandparents.

Of nine males in the wedding party, all but Joe’s two younger brothers
are graduates of Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.
(Jason Putsché
Photography/Courtesy Kim Barbera)

“I had family in from California, Illinois, Connecticut and North Carolina, and they loved it,” Joe said. “I had been there for Easter Sunday. The first time my family went there, for the rehearsal, it was dark. They didn’t get the whole perspective until the wedding day.”

The rehearsal dinner was at Aida’s, the Columbia bistro owned by Joe’s parents, Joe and Mary. The Barberas also supplied the priest, Father Jeffrey Dauses. Now the pastor of St. Andrew by the Bay in Annapolis, he was associate pastor of St. Louis from 1990 to 1997. Father Dauses admires the Barberas, and not just because they named their fourth child after him.

“They are an incredibly faith-filled family,” Father Dauses said. “Even when they had a house full of kids, they always found time to serve St. Louis Parish. Salt-of-the-earth people.”

So it was that Father Dauses celebrated his first Mass at St. Alphonsus Nov. 8, 2014, for the wedding of Joe and Kim Barbera.

“Monsignor (Arthur) Bastress was incredibly hospitable, he is a wonderful man,” Father Dauses said of the shrine’s rector. “It’s a beautiful church, with immense history.”

The centerpiece on Kim’s engagement ring is a diamond that had been her maternal grandmother’s. Of the nine men in the wedding party, all but Joe’s two younger brothers were graduates of Mount St. Joseph. Some 150 guests at the Rolling Road Golf Club in Catonsville sampled homemade Italian and Lithuanian cookies.

The newlyweds make their home in Raleigh, N.C., where Joe is an area scout for the Seattle Mariners and Kim works for the American Heart Association.

One last detail: her birthday is Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Also see:

Basketball big man goes from Lithuania to Goretti to Notre Dame

Lithuianian nun with ties to Baltimore on path to sainthood

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.