Sister Patricia Ann O’Neill died May 9, 2019 at Mount Saint Joseph Academy Convent. Her Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated May 15, 2019 in Saint Joseph Villa Chapel where relatives, friends and her sisters in community rejoiced in celebrating a life of varied and talented ministries of compassionate service to others.
Born December 31, 1946 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, Pat was the only child of Hugh Patrick and Mary Dodds O’Neill, who nurtured her Irish heritage, her outgoing, joyful disposition and her innate love for God and those in need. Pat attended Saint Madeline School and Archbishop Prendergast High School, where she first encountered the Sisters of Saint Joseph. A “Prendie Girl” at heart, her extracurricular activities contributed to the various ways her life’s journey would evolve. Immediately after high school, Pat embraced her vocation “to move always toward profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.” Motivated by this and all that is prescribed in the Constitutions of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Pat received the name Sister Hugh Patrice on the occasion of her Reception in April, 1965.
Pat’s ministry began as an elementary teacher at Nativity School in Philadelphia and spanned almost twenty years in other Archdiocesan schools. Beyond the classroom she taught music, gave guitar lessons, moderated cheerleaders, joined charismatic prayer groups, participated in parish life and through all deepened her love and concern for persons who are poor. Expressing her desire to be more at one with God’s people, she accepted two years of parish ministry in Oakland, New Jersey. Subsequently, and perhaps due to her mother’s nursing career, Pat applied for a nursing degree and received it in the early nineties from Gwynedd Mercy College. For twenty-five years Sister Patricia served in a healing capacity in the operating room at Misericordia Hospital.
Nursing was her forte, her dream-come-true, and it flourished in the selfless comfort Sister Pat gave to others. Her grasp of heart and hand succinctly touched lives. She was the essence of being a “healing presence,” a grace frequently petitioned by Sisters of Saint Joseph. While meeting the needs of her patients, she supported her co-workers as well. In community life, her sisters relished her sense of humor, her readiness for fun, her kindly manner toward all.
Her final ministry at Saint Joseph Villa, clearly evoked a culmination of Sister Pat’s faithfulness to grace.
As a member of the Palliative Care Team she lifted patients’ spirits to a new realization of life beyond pain and suffering. Her many and diverse experiences, as well as the essence of who she was before God, gave credence to “ her response to God’s love, to finding God in all things, to allowing the Divine Presence to transform her as she reached out to all people.” – SSJ Constitutions, Prayer Life
Her merciful death welcomed her to eternal joy and peace in the glorious, compassionate presence of the God she loved and served so well through others.