We met the lovely Sister Pat when she began working at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C., in 1997, for the Department of Missions and Pastoral Care; as a specialist in pediatrics in oncology and neonatology. When we talked about our first meeting, we both said it at the same time; meeting up on C53 with Ryan and his boo-boo bunny. Sister Pat lovingly asked Ryan about his bunny and the bunny's name. Well that question led to an unbelievable bond our family has had with her and our continuing friendships to this day. We think Ryan may have been one of the first patients she met while on the peds floor of the hospital when she first started at Georgetown, but she came to love all the children and families she served during those precious years there.
Sister Pat was born in Newark, New Jersey, to an Italian descent parents; an engineer father and an homemaker mother. By age 9, Sister Pat, along with her only brother, moved with their parents to Silver Spring, Maryland, where she has mostly lived for the past 70 years (although she did travel, go to college and lived internationally for a few years here and there).
Interestingly, if you know Italian families, either they are "all in" religiously, or not. Sister Pat explained that her family was not "all in" (did not attend church much or talked about what faith meant) and were ambivalent about her joining the religious life in the early 1960's. Due to the strict rules at the time under Vatican I, there was very little opportunity for families to have regular contact with their daughters. Plus they knew she would never marry or have children (but thankfully, her brother married and had three daughters, and now seven grandchildren, which makes Sister Pat an Auntie to all of them which she truly loves!).
In 1961, Sister Pat entered the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary as a novice https://www.snjmusontario.org/. And in 1963, she made her first profession of vows in this Order. So what made this humorous and fun-loving young lady become a nun? She believes it was her very strong idea to serve people as she saw her parents do in secular society. She said they always had a seat open at their dinner table for family, friends, and their children's friends, and were always hosting and helping others no matter where they lived. It was their way of serving and helping others. Her parents set wonderful values for Sister Pat and her brother and their home was dubbed "the gathering place." Sister Pat fondly recalled her Mom being a gourmet cook and baker and even baked homemade pizzas for the entire school after high school basketball games (now that's Italian!).
When I inquired about education, I was mesmerized on how much education means to being a nun (especially her Order). The nuns from her time and her Order are extremely educated and can discuss many topics of humanity with the best of them. They are also very interested in advancing all people across all borders of the world as it connects to the preaching of the Gospels and the goodness of mankind. This in itself excites Sister Pat as a spiritual leader and mentor of religious life.
Sister Pat earned her high school diploma from The Academy of the Holy Name (closed its doors in 1988) in Silver Spring, Maryland, then furthered her education at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, majoring in education and philosophy in the early 1960's. She then laughed about the fact she earned her other degrees by the decade. She received her Masters degree at LaSalle in Philadelphia the 1970's with a concentration in Religious Studies; and lastly, she earned her Doctorate of Ministry degree in the 1980's at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
In between all those decades of advancing her education, Sister Pat began her career in teaching. She claimed she taught all grades at some point, from elementary school through high school. Never one to sit still, she was directed to check out the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early 1970's https://www.maryknoll.org/ where she applied, and was accepted, to the mission and task of helping set up a new catechetical center in Kyoto, Japan, from 1973-1975.
It was all hands on deck for Sister Pat, who was the Assistant to the Director of the Japan mission, to implement activities, edit a monthly newsletter for English-speaking missionaries throughout the diocese (in Japan), and facilitate workshops in liturgical and religious education. Whew! I believe her time there whetted her appetite to grow and learn and take on even more responsibilities wherever her Order felt she could make a difference. An "adventurer" at heart, she traveled for six weeks following her Japan mission throughout Southeast Asia; Israel and Europe (and with no Internet/wifi/mobile phones to call home to reveal she was OK either!).
As you can see, Sister Pat's thoughts of "how can I help" never leave her. She is quite remarkable in that her calm demeanor, coupled with her joy of life, parlayed into a beautiful and meaningful career as a spiritual director and leader that has touched countless lives throughout the globe.
When I met and talked with Sister Pat about her illustrious career, she was very modest about all she has done (and continues to do). It was me "shouting" from the rooftops and how brilliant she has helped and affected more lives than she knows, including me and my entire family.
With a plethora of educational and travel experiences afforded to her spanning 50+ years, one of the most pivotal experiences she had was when she was invited by Dr. Aziza Shad to lecture at four conferences -the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC) from 2005-2008 (mostly held in Cypress). Those conferences themes focused on Palliative Care of the Cancer Patient. Sister Pat spoke about relationships of spirituality in that context, which, as we all know, is a very sobering topic for sure.
In addition to her religious experiences, training, teaching, lecturing, mission work and ministry, she is a published author of two books, and either a co-author or authored a chapter on two books; her most recent one: Worship and Church (authored a chapter on Liturgical Preaching). She has also published several articles on spirituality and preaching in the last decade.
This loving woman who loves the color yellow currently works part-time as a Spiritual Integrator (member of a clinical team) at Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lecturer of Pastoral Studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.
And lastly, when I asked Sister Pat what make her "tick", she stated at this point of her life, she feels truly blessed for her rich life; which includes her relationship with God; her unbelievable spiritual mentors, and her deep friendships she maintains with her friends, family and co-workers. She also absolutely adores her religious community where they problem solve the needs of everyday life to the larger world. And what ultimately fascinates Sister Pat is how everything in life is connected to the preaching of the Gospels and how they teach us all how to love. This gives her great joy of seeking the light and hope in every situation!
In closing, I asked Sister Pat to give me a couple her favorite quotes (bible or not); and she forwarded the following to me (I'm including them all):
"In the twilight of life, God will not judge us by earthly possessions or human successes, but on how well we have loved." (St. John of the Cross)
"As we tread the same path, let us extend a hand to one another to surmount the difficulties that present themselves." (Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher - Sister Pat's foundress of her Order - The Sisters of the Holy Names.)
"Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." (1 John 3:18)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." (Jeremiah 31:3)
BSoleille! The bright side of "SelflesslyCelebratingOthers" with Sister Pat Parachini, and she does indeed serve others, right?
Photo of Sister Pat and Ryan below
|Recent photo of me and Sister Pat Summer 2019|
|Ryan with Sister Pat at her Farewell Party at Georgetown|
|Ryan with Boo-Boo Bunny on the left.|