Sister Patricia McIntyre (formerly Sister Elaine)
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, O God, Ruler of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to the childlike.”
Let’s be clear: Jesus states that God is most easily recognized not by the childish but by the childlike.
Sister Regina Marie chose this Gospel to celebrate her sister Patty’s life. Regina’s choice begs the question how was Patty a childlike person? How was Patty a woman who easily recognized God because she willingly embraced a childlike way of living, said Sister Denise Wilkinson in her commentary for Sister Patricia McIntyre, formerly Sister Elaine, who passed away on Monday, January 18, 2021, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 87 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 70 years.
Sister Denise continued: Many of Patty’s family members, friends and colleagues, band members and other Sisters of Providence used these words to describe Patty: loved to play; loved to be out in nature, to sing, to cantor in Church, be silly, have a good time and join in activities. Patty was observant, mischievous, determined, kind and loyal to her family, friends and students – always looking out for the underdog.
But the number one word – repeated and repeated – was quiet. Approximately 99.9 percent of those who described Patty McIntyre described her as quiet. Those same 99.9 percent always added the word. Patty was quiet and – fill in the blank. As one of Patty’s band members observed, “Patty was quiet in her own way.” So, who was this Patty McIntyre who was “quiet in her own way?”
As Providence would have it, Patty herself wrote much of this commentary. As we will see, Patty was quiet and an excellent writer. A writer who observed life through the lens of joy, of a child who knows she is loved and loves in return.
Let me read parts of her story written by Patty herself. It describes her childhood.
I quote. “My parents, Edna Ashley McIntyre and Robert McIntyre welcomed me into the world on March 10, 1933. At that time of our family was living in Eaton, Ohio. One of six children, I was fourth in the line-up: Marjorie, Robert, Marilyn (aka Sister Regina Marie), myself, Phyllis Ann and Rosemarie.
“My father died at the age of 38, leaving my mother to raise us. After my father’s death, we moved to Richmond, Indiana, to be closer to my mother’s family. She wanted us to be taught by the Sisters of Providence. The sisters had taught her and Mother was very fond of them. Mother’s two favorite teachers were Sister Anna and Sister Marie Gratia. Congregation lore has it that Sister Anna was always misplacing things so Sisters of Providence often ask Sister Anna to find their lost items. Sister Marie Gratia became Mother Marie Gratia when she founded our mission in China.
“Above all my mother was a woman of deep faith. She attended Mass daily. On school days we rode the city bus to St. Mary’s Church, attended Mass, then Mother would see us to school. She would then walk to work. She was a bookkeeper in an insurance office. At the end of the day we all took the bus back home.
“I believe it was her faith that enabled my mother to bear the sorrow of the deaths of her husband and two of her children. Phyllis Ann died during infancy. Our brother survived his service in the Korean War but died at the age of 41 of cancer. He left a wife and two young daughters.”
End of quote.
Evidently this very same mother raised some very funny, fun loving, mischievous children who loved one another and took delight in one another’s company. Patty’s sister Rosemarie – fondly called Rosie – recalls that she and Patty “were always playing together – hopscotch, walking in the woods or the orchard or the yard. Patty loved to have fun and do silly things, pretend and make believe.”
Oldest sister Marjorie – fondly called Margie – remembers Patty’s love of music, her beautiful singing voice, making music with neighbors, her contagious giggle and her pride in her Irish heritage. Margie also remembers that, as an eighth-grader, Patty was chosen to crown the Blessed Mother during the parish’s May procession. Patty wore a long white dress and a bridal veil and carried a large and elaborate bouquet. Margie remembers Patty looked beautiful.
Lest we get the idea that Patty was a goody two-shoes, she made this wry observation about her place in the family. “At report card time my sisters often came home with straight A’s and Blue Ribbons. I came home once with a Second Place Ribbon. I remember spending many days in the classroom looking out the window.”
It is impossible to leave out this story from Patty’s childhood. Patty herself wrote the account that follows. It certainly showcases Patty’s quiet and subtle sense of humor. And perhaps a quiet teller of tales “out of school.” In this story, Patty seems the innocent bystander but who knows? Margie, Marilyn and Rosie, only you know if the story is truth or fiction or some of both. No matter. It’s a great story.
Patty wrote: “An aunt lived with us for a few years after my father’s death, since my mother had to return to work … Aunt Clare was especially fond of the baby, but did not have too much patience with the two oldest, my sister and my brother. My aunt was standing at a window directly below (my sister and brother had planned it this way) and she thought the falling form was one of us. We managed pretty much on our own after that.”
After graduation from St. Mary’s grade school, Patty attended Providence Juniorate here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, graduating in 1950. She entered the Congregation the next year in 1951, received the religious name of Sister Elaine some months later, and was received into the novitiate that same year on August 15. On that same date in 1953 and 1958, she professed first and perpetual vows respectively.
During these days of formation, band member Sister Carol Nolan recalls: “Patty and I were the shortest in our band so we headed every procession. … On the day we received our habits, we led our group into Church; we were all dressed as brides.
“At some point all of us were whisked out of Church, quickly whisked into our habits, then whisked back to Church to lead the procession up the center aisle, dressed in our habits for the first time. Patty and I looked at each other and giggled.” Margie, evidently the convent didn’t stifle Patty’s giggle.
Patty earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University.
From all accounts, Patty was not only an excellent teacher, but a teacher who loved to teach small children. Of herself, Patty wrote: “Of my 30 years as an elementary teacher, I taught each of the grades from first through eighth. I loved teaching the primary grades the most. At one time I had 73 first and second graders in one room! You have to be a happy person to do that.” It’s probably safe to say one has to be a person childlike in her ability to welcome the contagious energy of 73 children in a small space.
In 1966, Patty’s quiet compassion for children motivated her to apply for acceptance in a summer program sponsored by Indiana State University in Terre Haute. The institute’s title was “Reading for Disadvantaged Elementary Children.” Only 50 teachers would be admitted to the program. Patty was one of those 50. Criteria for the selection of participants included: expressed interest in and commitment to teaching disadvantaged children; above average abilities associated with professional competence; leadership abilities to serve as a resource person in the special area of reading, especially to the disadvantaged child.
Education outside the classroom interested Patty. She served as director of the Learning Media Center – grades 1-8 at Holy Cross grade school in Indianapolis.
Indiana Public School No. 93 in Indianapolis hired her for the position of Library Media Assistant. The principal of Indiana Public School No. 93 evaluated Miss McIntyre with these words: “(She) is doing an outstanding job in the LMC. She has continued to fine tune the organization here. She has used book displays for book exchange. Now so many overlooked books are being checked out. We are using classroom collections of the periodicals for better readership. I could not ask for a better assistant.”
One adjective that did not apply to quiet Patty was “timid.” No timid person would pursue certification in a Clinical Pastoral Education program. Anyone who has pursued and achieved the certification will say it is not for the “faint of heart.” It includes childlike self-disclosure; hours of contact with patients – each interaction evaluated by instructors and peers. In 1979, Patty earned her Clinical Pastoral Education certificate from Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and from there began ministry as a pastoral assistant in Falmouth, Kentucky.
A sidebar: The Cincinnati Red Cross sent Patty a formal acknowledgement of thanks for her volunteer services during the winter emergency of 1978. Many of us remember the severity of storms that raged across the Midwest that year. What did Patty do during those frightening days? We’ll probably never know because Patty was very quiet about any honors received.
All in all, we get the impression that Patty was accomplished, well liked and a quiet woman.
When asked, a band member said this about Patty: “What can I say of such a dear friend of mine? She was always gracious and kind with a subtle sense of humor.”
From another band member: “Patty had a pleasant disposition. She was quiet and always joined in activities. She was a pleasure to know.”
A comment from a band member about Patty the nature lover: “When we lived at Springhill, Patty couldn’t wait to tell me about the squirrel who came right up to her screen door for some food.” It’s anyone’s guess who put the food out for the squirrel.
Sister Judy Cervizzi, a Springhill neighbor of the McIntyre sisters, shared this memory: When Regina Marie was working at St. Meinrad, she’d leave to travel to St. Meinrad every Wednesday afternoon and return home on Sunday evening. As soon as Regina Marie left Springhill apartments in Terre Haute, Patty would call Judy and say, “Marilyn has left the parking lot. Come and get me.” Often the destination was Grand Traverse Pie Company. Patty would order the breakfast platter, a cup of cherry coffee and a piece of lemon meringue pie. Nothing more childlike than pulling a fast one on your older sister.
One of the most touching and dear descriptions of Patty came from that same older sister – Marilyn/Regina Marie. Regina described their relationship as one of being “quiet companions for each other.” This quiet companionship continued as Patty moved from Lourdes Hall to Mother Theodore Hall. Each move was marked by diminishment of Patty’s health. Regina visited her “little sister” every day. This became particularly difficult with the onset of COVID-19. Nonetheless, thanks to the generosity of our Ministry of Care staff and several aides in Mother Theodore Hall, the two sisters had daily “window visits.”
It is Regina Marie, big sister Marilyn, who wrote the second to the last chapter in Patty’s story. Regina wrote: “I’m going home.” After months of not being able to communicate her thoughts or words, Patty – at a window visit with me – looked at me and clearly said, ‘I’m going home.’ That she did a few days later in calm and peace.”
The day Patty died, Regina remembers, “There was a sunset that evening. It was a bright golden color with horizontal clouds.” What a beautiful parting gift of comfort and assurance you left those who love you, Mary Patricia McIntyre.
Patty, that sunset was but prelude to the end of the last chapter in one life and the beginning of your new life; your entrance into the dazzling light of God’s loving presence. You are now part of that dazzling light.
So, as the verse on your memorial card states, “Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in the heavens where the love of our loved ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know their souls are at peace.”
Shine on, Patty! Shine on!
Funeral services for Sister Patricia took place on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
A virtual wake took place at 10:30 a.m., followed by funeral liturgy without Eucharist at 11 a.m.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Patricia in the comment section below.
Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Sister Patricia to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Sister Patricia McIntyre (formerly Sister Elaine)
In Indiana: Teacher, St. John the Baptist, Whiting (1953-56); Teacher, St. Paul, Sellersburg (1956-59); Teacher, St. Malachy, Brownsburg (1962-65); Teacher, Cathedral Grade School, Indianapolis (1965-66); Teacher, Holy Family, New Albany (1966-70); Teacher, St. Malachy, Brownsburg (1969-70); Teacher, Nativity, Indianapolis (1973-77); Teacher, Holy Cross, Indianapolis (1980-84); Assistant Director, Shalom Community, Indianapolis (1985-89); Library-Media Assistant, Indianapolis Public School No. 93 (1990-91); Teacher, Sacred Heart School, Terre Haute (1991-96); Local Coordinator, Health Care Services, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1996-2001); Secretary/Receptionist, Woods Day Care/Pre-School, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2001-2009); Volunteer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2009-2018); Prayer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2018-2020).
In North Carolina: Teacher, Blessed Sacrament, Burlington (1959-60).
In Massachusetts: Teacher, St. Patrick, Stoneham (1960-62).
In Ohio: Clinical Pastoral Education, Bethesda Hospital, Cincinnati (1977-79).
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