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Sister Christine Patrick

I want to welcome Christine’s family and friends and all the Sisters of Providence not physically present here in the church but present in spirit as we celebrate the life of Christine. We offer her one surviving sibling, Zoe, special love and prayer. We Sisters of Providence know how much Christine loved you, Zoe, said Sister Denise Wilkinson in her commentary for Sister Christine Patrick, who passed away on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 89 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 70 years.

Sister Denise continued: Christine’s and Zoe’s siblings have all predeceased them – brothers Bernard and Dan as well as sisters Margaret, Joan, and Sisters of Providence Sisters Ann William and Paul. We know you are present here as part of the communion of saints.

Her nieces and nephews found a beloved aunt in Christine. We are mindful of all of you and all of Christine’s family. How we wish you could be here.
Sister Marianne, Christine’s very good and faithful friend, our hearts go out to you. We love you, Marianne.

But … even given the very crisis that keeps sisters, families and friends, Providence Associates, unable to be together in this sacred space to celebrate Christine’s life, I think I know what Christ would tell us: “Offer it up to God.”

I’m sure of this because of a story her niece Rita shared. Christine was babysitting Rita and her five siblings. Christine sent 10-year-old Rita out to trim part of the yard with a handheld grass trimmer. Very warm in the sun and bothered by sweat bees, Rita went back in the house only to meet up with Christine. Rita explained why she couldn’t possibly finish her job. Christine’s response? “Offer it up to God!” We are, Christine, but it’s hard.

Eleanor Mae Patrick was born to Walter Charles and Anna Scheidegger Patrick in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, 1931. She was educated by the Sisters of Providence at St. Philip Neri Grade School and St. Agnes Academy High School in Indianapolis.

She was received into the novitiate on Aug. 15, 1950, and, on that same date, made first and perpetual profession of vows in 1952 and 1957, respectively.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in educational administration and a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Indiana University.

Christine ministered 44 years as a teacher or principal – a few times as teacher and principal – in schools in Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington, D.C., and Florida. She also served as an aide and as health care administrator of our infirmary. Her volunteer ministries included working at Southeastern Guide Dogs and as a Home Visitor and Senior Outreach Minister at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, Florida.

Celebrating Sister Margaret Louise’s recover (seated) are Sister Cathy Buster, left, Sister Marianne Ridgell, Sister Ann Paula Pohlman, Sister Mary Ann Leahy, Sister Christine Patrick and Sister Carolyn Glynn.

All of these facts were important in shaping Christine’s life. More importantly, though, was the why of what she did. At the last supper, Jesus encouraged his 12 friends with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

Christine’s belief in God carried her through the death of her parents and siblings. In particular, it carried her through the deaths of her Sister of Providence sisters. Christine thought one of her greatest joys would be to live as a Sister of Providence with her Sisters Ann William and Paul. Yet, Ann William died two years after Christine’s final profession and Paul died four years after Christine’s final profession.

This sadness stayed with Christine these many years; and that same sadness deepened her faith, her belief in a loving God. She resonated with the words of St. Paul heard in the first reading: “I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”

Christine’s family appreciated Christine’s confidence that prayer was a powerful force for the good.

From her niece Patsy, with Christine when she died: “The memory that will stick with me forever is being blessed to be with her during her last two weeks of life. I was able to witness her strength and ultimate faith in God and God’s will and Divine Providence up to her last breath.”

From her niece Barb: “She always told me to take care of myself and reminded me she was praying for me. I have no doubt that her prayers helped sustain me through difficult times.”

From niece Julie: “Aunt Christine was a very prayerful person. When I first called to tell her that I had met the man I thought I would marry, she said to me in her direct way, ‘Are you sure? I have been praying that you have a religious vocation.’ Because I was just sure she had a pipeline to God, I visited Church for three days trying to discern God’s will for me before I accepted my husband’s proposal. We will celebrate 57 years of marriage in June.”

Her nephew Jim described her as “deeply spiritual,” and her nephew-in-law Bob as “the best pray-er I know.”

Sister Marianne told me that Christine had a great devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She loved the prayer of the rosary and prayed the rosary daily. Most of us may not know that Christine prayed what she called the Hurricane Novena every year – June 1 through November 30. All who might be or were caught in the hurricane’s path were remembered and prayed for during her Hurricane Novena.

Christine brought the fruits of her prayer life to her ministries. She gave to each ministry her gifts and talents, her qualities of directness, determination and tenderness.

In her career in education, Christine taught every grade from second through eighth. Christine’s last ministry as principal in a grade school in Bradenton, Florida, elicited this comment from one of our sisters: “I was in awe … that she could walk into a school in shambles and see exactly what it could be in five years. Her board, her teachers, her janitors caught the vision and became part of the transformation.”

Christine treated all equally and set high standards in regard to study and good conduct. She expected adherence to her standards of excellence from students, teachers and parents. As we all know, Christine could be described as formidable, a force to be reckoned with.

Marianne shared a great story that illustrates this. During the time she was principal at St. Joe’s in Bradenton, she formed a professional relationship with a parent of one of the students. This gentleman was one of the most generous benefactors of the school.

He and another father of a student wanted their sons to be granted early dismissal so that the boys could participate in a Pop Warned Tournament. These two grown men, both very successful business men, flipped a coin on their way to Christine’s office. The loser had to ask Christine for the permission. Formidable and fair – a great combination.

Several of Christine’s friends and family remarked on her humor. Her niece Donna related that Aunt Christine made it very clear that she liked dark chocolates. Each year, Donna and her husband’s birthday gifts to their aunt was a box of dark chocolates and a dollar for each year. Just last year, they delivered the gifts. Christine opened the box to make sure the chocolates were dark. She then looked at the check and said, “You owe me $2.” Donna had gotten Christine’s age wrong. Needless to say, Donna and her husband paid up – immediately.

Nephew Jim remarked that Aunt Christine had “a wonderful laugh … she was serious … but could be funny when she wanted.”

Christine’s niece Joan mentioned a moment when “Aunt Christine did one of her famous eye rolls.” How well we Sisters of Providence know that look …

Sister Virginia, a cousin, remembers how much Christine, then missioned in Washington, D.C., enjoyed lunch with her aunts Dorothy and Stell. They loved catching up on family news. Family was always important to Christine.

For me, no commentary on Christine’s life would be complete without mentioning this quality of Christine’s life, her integrity. She lived her values with unflinching courage.

Her cousin Mary hints at how Christine lived this when Mary wrote about her visits to Christine: “our conversations were around the dinner table and thus bound by ‘dinner table’ rules.” Christine was clear – very clear – about her religious and political beliefs. Thus “table rules” for conversation were probably necessary.

Clear and committed as she was about her beliefs, she had an ability to put relationships first.

These examples stand out for me.

The first is Christine’s friendship with our Sister Kathleen Desautels. The two could ‘t have been farther apart politically, and in so many other areas – even in personality. Kathleen is a flaming extrovert. Christine was not. This was abundantly clear at Congregation meetings. Both women spoke their truths candidly.

But for all their differences, they had an authentic affection for each other. Upon Christine’s death, Kathleen wrote: “I’m not sure how we became friends What I do know is that she has been one of those friend-gifts that living in a religious community often surprises us with.”

This next example if personal. I hesitated a long time before I decided to include it, but I’m going to because it highlights who Christine was for more people than just myself.

When I was in elected leadership, I was part of a decision very hurtful to Christine. It was one of those decisions that no one feels good about. Again, Christine’s response came from her sense of integrity, her sense of fairness. I never felt her disagreement was rooted in opinion or taking sides. I recognized it as rooted in her values. For a couple of years, our relationship was marked by respect for each other but it was very strained.

Along came a community meeting. I can’t remember if it was one of our General Chapters or one of our annual summer meetings. I don’t even remember the issue – but I’m pretty sure it was whether or not the Sisters of Providence would issue a corporate statement publicly declaring our objection to the death penalty.

I do remember that Christine was seated several tables away from me but in my direct line of sight.

The question was called: “The Congregation of the Sisters of Providence will issue a public statement delcaring our objection to the use of the death penalty. All in favor indicate by raising your hand.”

I saw a sea of hands. I thought everyone in the room had voted in the affirmative. Then the facilitator asked for those who objected to raise their hands. Again, I assumed no one would.

But then I saw Christine with her hand raised. The only hand raised on objection. I was stunned – not by her stance, not by what she believed. I was overwhelmed by her courage.

We took a break right after the vote. I beat it over to Christine to tell her how moved I was by her courage. We had a conversation – not about the death penalty – but about mending our relationship. From that day one, we began a wonderful relationship – putting the past behind us and moving into a new moment. What a gift.

Christine chose to bring her uniqueness to the Sisters of Providence. She chose to live her life according to the Constitutions of the Sisters of Providence.

Article 5 of our Constitutions is titled “Call to Community.”

Let me read it as part of our celebration of how Christine lived as a Sister of Providence

Call to Community

This particular Congregation is called into being by God to participate as a community in extending the providential designs of God to all creation. The sisters work to build community since its continuing call into being depends upon each one’s affirmative response. Community is formed by faith, hope and love lived not only in moments of light and peace but also in the pain and darkness of human existence.

Christine, we celebrate you for all the times you called the community into being. We thank you for the times you lived community not “only in times of light and peace but also in pain and darkness of human existence.”

Rejoice in living in the fullness of life, in light and peace!

Rejoice that the words of Jesus are fulfilled for you: “In God’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you may also be.”

Rejoice, Christine. Rejoice!

Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass for Sister Christine took place at 11 a.m., on Friday, March 27. It was closed to the public.

We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Christine in the comment section below.

Memorial contributions in Sister Christine’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Christine Patrick

Complete ministry

In Illinois: Teacher, St. Mel-Holy Ghost, Chicago (1952-63); Teacher, Maternity BVM, Chicago (1956-57); Teacher, Maternity BVM, Chicago (1957-58).

In Oklahoma: Teacher, Immaculate Conception, Tulsa (1953-56).

In Indiana: Teacher, St. Margaret Mary, Terre Haute (1958-61); Teacher, Sacred Heart, Whiting (1961-62); Teacher, St. James, Indianapolis (1962-65); Teacher/Principal, St. James, Indianapolis (1965-69); Principal, Middle Central Catholic, Indianapolis (1969-77); Administrator/Middle School Principal, Central Catholic Education Complex, Indianapolis (1977-78); Infirmary Aide, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1982-83); Administration Health Care Facilities, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1983-89); Principal, St. Edward School, Lowell (1989-94).

In Washington, D.C.: Principal, Dunblane (1978-82).

In Florida: Principal, St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton (1995-2004); Volunteer, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Palmetto and Sarasota (2004-07); Volunteer, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Palmetto (2007-12); Home Visitor, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton (2007-12); Volunteer/Senior Outreach, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton (2012-20).

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  1. Avatar Madonna Buchanan on March 19, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    May she rest in the arms of her beloved.

  2. Avatar Evelyn Groves on March 19, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    I had not met Sr. Christine, but her sister, Zoe Patrick Booker, was our neighbor in Indianapolis. Special, loving family. She is now resting in God’s arms.

    • Avatar Pati on March 21, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      Sister Christine was a patient of mine in a skilled rehab. I considered her a friend. I could tell her and Marianne almost anything. I thought of her as a mentor, a leader. I hope i made some of her last days pleasant and comfortable. I miss her and i will see you on the other side. My prayers to her family and friends. Love, P.

  3. Avatar Dolorese Kershaw on March 19, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    St. Joseph’s Parrish in Bradenton, Florida was blessed to have had Sr. Christine for so many years. Sr. Christine’s smiling face and sweet countenance will be missed by many. While our hearts are breaking, so very happy Sr. Christine was able to make it home to St. Mary of the Woods and that she is in the loving arms of His Divine Mercy.

    • Avatar Marianne Ridgell on March 21, 2020 at 7:10 am

      Christine and I were friends for 42 years. She often spoke of how much she missed her two Sisters who had entered the Sisters of Providence before her. They both died young so she had only 9 years in Community with S. Ann William and 11 with S. Paul.
      Christine had great faith and trust in God and in her decline of health, she was patient and accepting of it all. It was a gift to be her friend and we will meet again.

  4. Avatar Tom Dale on March 21, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Sister Christine was such a blessing to me, my classmates and family at St. James the Greater school and parish. She was there 16 years in total. So many of my classmates turned out to be successful many are small business owners and we still talk about her tough math classes and how she help shape us into smart, faith filled people today.

  5. Avatar Kellie Potter, Ed.S. on March 21, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Sr. Christine was my first Principal. As a young teacher, she taught me about classroom management, the importance of supporting one’s team, and professionalism. She was a huge influence on my career, my life.
    When many years later, I became a Principal, she met with me an gave me wonderful advice. She was an innovator, a class act, a woman ahead of her time.
    I am grateful to her for holding me to higher standards and helping me grow. She is still my go to when I find myself wondering what decision is best—I think of what she would have done—heat her voice inside my head. She will always be my mentor.
    Love you, Sr. Christine—you have definitely made a huge impact on me, your teachers, your students❤️

  6. Avatar Jayne Kocher on March 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Sr Christine – you dedicated your life to God and our children – your Novena’s kept the hurricanes away … keep us in your prayers through this storm!! As principal at St Joseph, you were always tough, even on us parents … but I know how much you loved us and especially our children! We will miss you!

  7. Avatar candy Ardoin on March 21, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Sr. Christina,
    She was a kind person and a good principal. She looked out for the well being and education of the students. As a parent of 3 children who attended St. Joseph’s, room mother and volunteer, I am happy to have known her. We will miss her.

  8. Avatar Michael John on March 22, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Sr, Christine was a women of faith and great devotion to Our Blessed Mother. I worked with sister and would later become a friend who would visit her often. I will miss her challenges , her wit and most of all her continue smile even in her own most painful situations. St. Joseph’s will miss her and her work that helped keep the community and school alive. I know she will be present to us always. May the angels take you into paradise! Rest well wise and faithful servant!

    • Avatar Una O’Donnell. Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception on March 24, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      I first met Sister Christine when she came as principal to Saint Joseph’s Church in Florida.
      I found her to be a person of integrity,character,empathy and great love. The Christian virtues were part of her daily life and her sense of justice was evident in everything she said and did.
      She was a dear friend to me for many, many years. I always looked forward to celebrating the big holidays/feast days with herself and Sister Marianne in Wildwood Springs .
      A quote from an author, Flavia Weedn, best describes what Sister Christine was to me.
      “Some people come into our lives and quickly leave, some stay and leave footprints in our
      Sister Christine, you not only left your footprints in my heart but you left them everywhere
      Know that I will miss you but I have beautiful memories which I cherish. Thank you for being such a great friend.
      A beautiful soul has gone to God. Rest In Peace my friend.

      Una O’Donnell

  9. Avatar Sister Carolyn on March 22, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    I was DRE at St. Joseph’s when Christine became principal. She walked into a school in shambles and saw clearly what it could be in five years. . I was in awe. Like a gifted potter, she never took her eyes from the beauty she was creating. The school became a model for the diocese.

    I also witnessed Sister Marianne’s care of Sister Christine. One of our friends wrote of this.
    “Marianne walked Sister Christine to the gate of heaven, then she carried her the last several miles.”

  10. Avatar Sr. Monica Paul Fraser, OP on March 23, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Christine and I go way back. We were both principals at the same time and often would drive to meetings together. One time, we were talking so much that we missed the exit and didn’t realize it until much later. We did not give into the attractive temptation to keep driving and see where we ended up. We arrived a bit late at the meeting, because of “traffic.”
    Christine was a wonderful Religious, a lovely woman whose smile was the first thing you saw on her face, even when she was in pain. She had a laugh that made you laugh. I called her friend and am grateful to God that we knew each other. Dear Christine, “Pray for me, as I will for thee, that we may one day merrily meet in Heaven.”
    Prayers for Marianne, too, who showed what a true friendship in God is.

  11. Avatar Rosemary Mascaro on March 23, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Sr. Christine became a dear friend after my daughter, Katie, & I moved from PA to FL. In 1997. Sr. Christine helped us through a difficult transition and made us feel so welcome in the St. Joseph family.
    Later we attended Curves together where we both motivated each other to reluctantly continue the program. (until her first hip surgery).
    I will miss our many dinner get-togethers, too, and her wonderful laugh. She was so much fun to be with. While I’m sad for all of us who loved her, I know that she is so happy in Heaven for sure.
    God Bless you, Sr. Christine …. save a Heavenly place for me 😇!

  12. Avatar Rosemary Mascaro on March 23, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Sr. Christine became a dear friend after my daughter, Katie, & I moved from PA to FL. In 1997. Sr. Christine helped us through a difficult transition and made us feel so welcome to the St. Joseph family.
    Later we attended Curves together where we both motivated each other to reluctantly continue the exercise program (until her first hip surgery).
    I will miss our many dinner get-togethers, too, and her wonderful laugh. She was so much fun to be with, and, even with her pain, brought so much joy to everyone. She was a true Saint on earth and is now one in Heaven. While I’m sad for all of us who loved her, I know that she is so happy to be with Jesus, for sure.
    God Bless you, Sr. Christine …. save a Heavenly seat for me 😇!

  13. Avatar Ann Patrick on March 23, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Sister Christine was my sister-in -law, but she was much more like my sister! We kept in touch every week, or two, just to talk. She shared so many vacations and Christmas’ with our family. Sister Christine brought so much fun, laughter and joy along with her !
    We will miss her so much but I know she is so happy with God and her family in Heaven.

  14. Avatar Marilynne Bolek on March 27, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Sister Christine – my mentor, my friend. I would never have survived being Home School President without her wisdom and guidance. She was instrumental in instructing our children to be good, kind, generous adults. I will remember her fondly. Go with God.

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