Sister Patricia Monahan
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.” (Psalm 63:1)
“Sister Patricia Monahan found Psalm 63 very meaningful. Perhaps in the early hours of the morning Sept. 6, she had been awake, thinking of God, meditating on God through the night, thinking, too, of how much God had helped and sustained her through 74 years … . At 1:30 that morning, Sister Pat said ‘yes’ to following God one last time — into eternity,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Pat.
Born Sept. 1, 1930, in Chicago, to Patrick and Margaret Wester Monahan, Patricia Anne was one of four children. She attended Our Lady of Mercy Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago.
She entered the Congregation Feb. 2, 1948, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1950, and 1955, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and master’s degrees in education and special education from Illinois State University, Normal, and Northern Illinois University (NIU), DeKalb, respectively.
Sister Pat’s initial teaching ministry was at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis, in 1950. She ministered four years at St. Rose, Vincennes. St. Pat’s pedagogical ministry took her to Los Angeles to St. Theresa for four years. She then returned to the Midwest to teach in Chicago at St. Mel-Holy Ghost and St. Columbkille. After earning one of her master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University, Sister Pat stayed on to minister there for nearly three decades. At NIU, she was a special education instructor, an assistant professor and later director of the undergraduate program in special education.
“At NIU, students and faculty alike loved Sister Pat. Students were quick to avail themselves of her wisdom and counsel. Reportedly, she was available to them 24/7,” said Sister Ann.
“Among the faculty, Sister Pat was a morale booster, thrower-of-parties and spiritual advisor. Her spacious living room often served as the gathering place for book discussions, socials and spiritual sharing sessions. It is no wonder that these special relationships have continued over the years, with colleagues often visiting Sister Pat at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods as a group or individually.
“Sister Pat was also very active in her parish in DeKalb, leading small groups and serving as a catechist in the religious education program. People were drawn to her, and although she wasn’t anyone’s official ‘spiritual director,’ we suspect that she was just that to many people,” continued Sister Ann.
“A sister-friend described Sister Pat as upbeat, uplifting and comical. She was frequently the instigator of both mischief and fun. She always had time for a party and often wrote song parodies or led the singing and the creation of costumes.
“A close friend described Sister Pat’s severe weight problem as ‘a great cross to her throughout her life’ and an issue she tried to address consistently but unsuccessfully. However, she did not let it or other medical problems deter her from leading an active life. She even managed to get to the DeKalb football and basketball games.
“When she returned to the motherhouse in February 2000, Sister Pat continued to struggle to get around, but get around she did,” shared Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Pat was celebrated Sept. 9, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her sisters, Margaret Coughlin of Grayslake, Ill., and Joanne Fjare of St. Cloud, Minn., and her sister-in-law, Jo Anne Monahan of Bartlett, Ill.
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