(My comments, Mary Gene Frank, SCNA, will be in parentheses and in italics.)
On October 14, 1932, Dorothy Marie Patrick, was born to Pauline Krysten Patrick whose birthplace was Czechoslovakia and Joseph Patrick whose native land was Austria. She grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania with two older siblings, Joseph and Rosemary, and a younger sister Eleanor, There was another brother, Jackie, who, sadly, died as a toddler in a scalding accident. Sister Jacinta recalled that her mother had turned from the child less than three minutes, but there was boiling water on the stove which the little boy pulled over on himself. The mother and family were devastated.
Jacinta’s mother was a stay-at-home Mom and her father worked as a foreman in a brick company. She attended St Peter and Paul Elementary School and was taught by the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. Those childhood years were very happy times for Dorothy.
Dorothy attended Johnstown Catholic High School where she had the opportunity to be taught by members of many religious orders: Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, PA; Sister of St Francis, Millvale, PA; and Sisters of St Joseph of Baden, PA.
Jacinta recalls, “My favorite Sister in high school was Sister Jude Thaddeus, a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill. Because she was so happy and joyful, I began to entertain thoughts of possibly becoming a Sister myself. She had an obvious love of life and of God. This really made religious life attractive to me. I thought of becoming a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, but the Lord had other plans for me. My cousin, Sister Miriam Joseph Krystyen, was already a Vincentian Sister of Charity and was encouraging me to enter her Order. I wanted to enter the VSC’s right after grade school but my father wanted me to wait until I was a senior in high school. In my senior year, I attended the Vincentian Academy in Pittsburgh for aspirants. I was so homesick for Johnstown, that I didn’t think that I would be able to continue. After a while, I settled in and felt very comfortable along with the many other Johnstown girls who were already in the Order.”
Dorothy tells the story of her senior year at Vincentian Academy. She and Elsie (later Sister Christopher) Zayicek took music lessons and were to be in a recital. The two Sisters were to perform a duet. This was quite a daunting task because both of them were much older than the rest of the pupils. The day came. Dorothy was very nervous. She had even invited her father, mother and family. Her father was a musician who played the slide trombone. Dorothy felt that her father, particularly, would be so proud of her.
Their turn came and they took their places on the piano. Dorothy was playing the upper keys and Elsie the lower. Elsie said that Dorothy should turn the pages since she was on the upper keys. The performance began. Dorothy had memorized the music and turned the page too soon. They never got together. They labored on and finally finished. Dorothy said, “We made things worse because we took a bow.” Dorothy thought that Elsie would kill her when they got off stage, but they both started to laugh. Sister Martina Pritz, the music instructor said she was so disappointed in them who were seniors. She told them they had ruined the music festival. Dorothy’s father said he could not believe he had come all the way from Johnstown to hear this. S Jacinta now recalls, “This of course was the end of my music career.” (The fact that this memory is so vivid for Sister Jacinta makes one know that this incident really made a lasting impression.)
During S Jacinta’s formative years, they served in many different types of ministry: one year in teaching, one year in health care and one year in domestic service. During her year in service she was sent to the Chancery and the Cathedral. While there part of her duties were to serve the monsignors and Chancellor Vincent M. Leonard during meals. This was the hardest assignment for her and caused her to be very nervous. When Bishop John F. Dearden was there for meals, she actually shook so badly that the dishes rattled. The monsignors were very charitable and never chided her or made fun of her. She eventually got better and did not tremble as much.
Sister Jacinta relates that: “I felt most comfortable in the teaching profession. I enjoyed teaching children in first and fifth grades. The children in those grades were very innocent and cooperative back in those times. I met so many interesting and beautiful people during my teaching years.” Sister taught in the Pittsburgh and Greensburg Dioceses and also in Scarborough, Canada. It was in Canada that she experience for the first time teaching in portable classrooms. Because there were so many children, there was not enough room for all of them in the main building. The children there all ice-skated to school. On the playground, there was an ice-skating rink for the children to play hockey and to skate for fun. After teaching, Sister worked for a year at St Vincent Hospital in Monett, Missouri, and then a year in Vincentian Child Care on the Motherhouse campus.
Her mother and father were in poor health, so Jacinta spent a year caring for them in Johnstown. One evening, it began to rain and rain until the whole town of Johnstown was flooded. Jacinta remembers, “My parents and I were trapped on the sixth floor of our apartment building with no water and no electricity. It was a very frightening time.” As the water receded, the Salvation Army provided food and the US Army came with drinking water. There were about ninety seven people who lost their lives during that summer of 1977. After nearly three weeks, her aunt and uncle took them to their home. It was many months before Johnstown got back to normal.
Several months later, her mother was stricken with a severe stroke, was paralyzed and could not speak. It was a difficult time! Jacinta says, “I made plans to take my mother and father to our Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh for care. My mother was there exactly one month and passed away on February 22, 1986. My father remained at the Home until 1989, but he was a man who was used to being in charge. He had some definite expectations about how his life was to be lived out. One thing in particular he could not do without was his “green leaves.”
As it turns out, those “green leaves” were the candies known as spearmint leaves. Sister was always buying them to keep him supplied. On one occasion Joseph decided he had waited long enough and left the Home and walked down McKnight Road to buy some. No one knew he had left and no idea where he would have gone. The Home received a call about his location and the only remark he made, “that store does not even have green leaves.” On June 17, 1989, her father peacefully went to the God.
Sister Jacinta continued to serve in the Vincentian Home as a bookkeeper in the Business Office (1989-2011). “I pray that I carry the Presence of Christ as I respond to all with kindness and warmth, with joy and humble service. God grant me this gift this day and always”, she says with hope.
In her religious life S Jacinta spent thirty five years in the ministry of teaching and twenty five years in the ministry of healthcare. When asked about the merger with the SCNs, she stated that it was difficult because Nazareth is so far away.
(I was privileged to have access to a video tape interview of Sister Jacinta besides an interview at St.Louise Convent.
When I asked Sister Jacinta how she got her religious name, she said she originally asked for three other names: Pauline, Herman Joseph, or Kathleen. She received none that she asked for. The name given her was Jacinta and Sister believed it may have been for the young girl Jacinta who had the apparition of Mary at Fatima. Another story from her about names is that her last name may have been spelled as Petrick, which I found listed in the 1940 Census at Pherich.)
Mary Gene Frank,SCNA