A memorial Mass was offered for our dear Sister Patricia Mary (89) in the convent chapel in Mokama on April 26 at 9.30 am. The Eucharist was presided over by Father Joe Velankunnel, SJ and Father Sebastian Puthenpura. Sister Sangeeta Ayithamattam, SCN Provincial, garlanded Sister Patricia’s photo and the Sisters, novices, hospital nurses and employees strewn petals of flowers.
For the introduction to the Mass Sister Sangeeta said, “We are gathered here this morning to pay our loving tribute and honor to a very dester, Sister Patricia Mary, as we lovingly called her while she was with us, a valiant woman of wisdom and ar sicreative energy. We have come because of our love and respect for her who has been the “Guru”, (novice director) and spiritual guide to many among us”.
First reading was an excerpt from the ‘Fifty Monsoons P. 158: In the ashram, the life of the Novices and Sister Patricia paralleled that of the sun for they had no electricity in Sokho. Kerosene lamps guided them by night. The Scripture chosen was Jn. 11: 17-26. There was no formal homily but sharing of memories of Sister Pat.
Sister Patricia Mary was a woman of grace. Sister Anne Marie Thayilchirayil said, “When Ann George Mukalel and I came as new candidates, Sister Patricia Mary taught us English at Nazareth Academy, Gaya. She taught us the prayer, ‘Hail Mary Full of Grace….’ Though I did not know much English, I understood the meaning of that prayer well by looking at her for she was a woman, full of grace.”
Sister Patricia was indeed a daring pioneer, a visionary filled with zeal for God and love for the poor, a woman ahead of her time. She was filled with the spirit of mission and saw God in and through the poor. Father Puthenpura said, “Sister Patricia lived with many inconveniences and possessed very little material goods but always had a bright smile on her face. She loved God and the poor. Sister had a hand in my formative years as a young priest, for I understood from her example that if I love God and serve the poor, I will have everything to be happy in life.”
She being a formator brought about a real paradigm shift in the formation program in the early 70s. Sister Patricia while in the formation cherished a long desired dream to bring about indigenization of the formation program, following the Indian spiritual tradition. She spent time with Vandana Mataji, an RSCJ sister in Rishikesh before she pioneered the ashram type of formation for the first year novices in Sokho village in a mud hut in 1975. The novices reached out to the neighbors in ministry as an integrated approach to formation.
Sister Lata Thurackal shared that Sister Patricia has played an important role in her life. She taught us, the novices, to do always little more than what we can do for God. While preparing us to teach catechism in the village, she taught us the song, ‘Jesus is our Rock’ translated into Hindi. Such was her fervor to reach out to the people.
Sister Marceline Indwar shared some of her memories of life at the ashram with Sister Patricia. Sister Pat was a woman of inculturation that she would translate all that she read into vernacular language, Hindi, to make others understand the deeper meaning of it. She was an embodiment of simplicity.
“Sister Patricia took the first initiative to carry stones after lunch in hot summer and the novices followed after her,” said Sister Philomena Kottoor.
Sister Patricia was a good listener and I found solace in sharing with her my life, said Mary Joseph.
Patricia Kelley, SCN was born on July 12, 1922 in Lexington, KY. She had three sisters and one brother and none are living. She entered the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth on September 24, 1940 and made first vows on March 25, 1942 and perpetual vows on July 19, 1945. She had been a Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 71 years.
With B. S. in Education, Sister Patricia taught for 10 years in Louisville and came to Gaya, India, in 1952 and taught 9 years. In 1961, she came to Mokama as sssistant to Sister Lawrencetta and Director of Temporary Professed Sisters till December 1967. Later, she served as Council Member and the Director of Education.
She was appointed as Novice Director in January 1968 and remained till July 1977. At the invitation of Jesuits, Sister Patricia went with Sister Olive Pinto to Nepal to explore the possibilities of ministry in 1977. She returned to US in July 1977.
After her return to the US, she continued to be bonded with the Eastern Province through her work with the mission education in schools from the Office of the Congregational Advancement.
In 1994-95 she came to India to gather resource materials for her book, ‘Fifty Monsoons’, published in 1999. Sister Patricia was in Mokama to celebrate the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our SCN foundation in India in 1997. She loved India, the SCNs and our ministries became part and parcel of her life; she was eager to get news of each one and about all that is going on in India.
Sister Liz Wendeln was sitting with Sister Pat when she passed away on April 24 at 12.40 am (US time). Sisters Margaret Rodericks and Hilda Lobo used to visit Sister Pat frequently. When any Indian Sisters visited her she wanted to know all about the Province Assembly 2012 and the changes taking place in the Eastern Province.
Sister Sangeeta concluded her words with, “On Friday when Sister Pat was told that all the Sisters from India sent her love and are praying for her, she said to tell everyone that she loves us all and will not forget the Sisters and again she said, I will not let them forget me. I know we won’t.”
We love you Pat and we thank you for your life. We are blessed by you – you are a solid foundation and inspiration to our life with and for the poor.