We are gathered today to celebrate the life of our sister Patricia Bates who was received into our community in 1948 and lived among us for 75 years.
She was the eighth child of Franklin William Bates and Catherine Bridget Gleason, born on October 22, 1930, in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. She was a younger sister to Mary, Marguerite, Lucille, Francis, Veronica, Doretta, and Virginia (who died at the age of 10); and she was an older sister to Dick and Barbara.
Pat says of her childhood: “I was a friendly, good-natured little girl, so people liked having me around and my Mom could leave me with anyone. I got attention from everyone by being the perfect, helpful little lady and entertaining people with my vivid imagination. Needless to say, I was spoiled!”
“Some of my sisters were in high school by the time I was three or four years old, so I studied with them every night. Since I was a very active child, my Mom had to keep me busy all day until my sisters came home from school. If she baked, I baked with my own little pans – I never understood why my Dad didn’t want to eat it! I was honestly convinced that I was needed to help my Mom with all the work.”
Pat’s family lived on a farm at the time of her birth, and for grades one top four, she attended a country school, one room with all eight grades. She met our sisters at Madonna High School in Aurora, Illinois, and, after her sophomore year, entered the Aspirancy at St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. She mentions, “Not too many people thought I would stay – including my family.”
Right after Novitiate, Sister Pat went out to teach children in first grade. She says, “I love children and am very happy to say I have been very successful as a teacher. I have always gotten along well with children, parents, pastors, fellow teachers, and the sisters that I have lived with. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t run into some difficulties and have some misunderstandings, and a few headaches as well as heartaches here and there. But I was always able to solve these without too much damage to my own self or to others.”
Sister Pat taught in Catholic elementary schools in Illinois and Wisconsin for 17 years. Later, she was a school counselor in two inner city Catholic schools in Chicago, and especially enjoyed setting up a guidance program and conducting group counseling sessions with young children. She used “Dr. Do-So” puppets to help them share their feelings.
She says of that experience, “My first experience with black children taught me another way to look at life. I learned to take each day at a time, to come out of my snug little narrow world, and I envied them their freedom from white, middle class, Catholic values. I found myself taking more risks, and I soon learned that I had to be very honest with myself and with them. After two years, I was proud of the program in both schools, and found it hard to leave when my community asked me to be personnel/formation director.”
Sister Pat also served as a chaplain at hospitals in Chicago and Kingston, New York, and was director of pastoral care in Kingston.
She served the School Sisters of St. Francis community in various ministries:
- Director of Formation for both the Generalate and the Chicago Province
- On the U.S. Provincial Team from 1987 to 1991
- Coordinator of the retired sisters at Maryhill and at Sacred Heart Center; and later as a social worker for 10 years with the Community Care program, assisting our retired sisters at Sacred Heart.
Sister Pat says of her life in ministry, “All of my work has been a pleasure serving people from early childhood through senior citizens, which brought me great joy, challenges, and opportunities for learning. I have had the opportunity to travel in Europe (Germany and Ireland), as well as throughout the United States. My life has been very happy and very fulfilling, for which I am very grateful to God and my community.”
Our sister Pat has now gone before us, but is still close to us. Thank you, Pat, for sharing life with us in family and community and for sharing your life with so many people throughout your years of ministry. We love you, and are united with you in love.
Sister Barbara Kraemer