It is impossible to speak of the charism of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit without referring to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25.
So it seems fitting that as the world celebrates Catholic Sisters’ Week 2020 we stop to take a glance at this reminder and realize how these words were concretized and lived daily by the Daughters of the Holy Spirit who responded to the call and committed themselves to be Christ to others through service in love
Charisms, particular gifts of the Spirit to a Congregation/individual and the very life blood of the mission, are intended to be shared and lived out daily in simple and direct ways. They are the force of the Spirit that inspires and helps us to reach out to others in a myriad of ways, loving as Jesus did without counting the cost, daring to go forth to bring the good news of Christ wherever and to whomever the Spirit leads us.
When Sister Patricia Ann Rickis was a child, her parents were inspired to transport her a couple towns away so she could attend St Anne’s School in Hartford, CT administered by the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. Her strong attraction to the DHS was reinforced as she traveled to Putnam for her high school years at Putnam Catholic Academy. From there she entered the Novitiate in 1960 and made profession two years later. After completing her BS degree at Diocesan Sisters College in 1965, Sr. Pat was missioned to St. Cecilia’s School in Leominster, MA, embarking upon her long career as an educator and bearer of the charism to educate the young and to prepare them to be, in turn, bearers of gifts for others. Eight years later Sr. Pat headed to Tupper Lake, N.Y. to another classroom, another group of junior high students with whom she would share her gifts and in whom she would instill a strong sense of personal value and the importance of being aware of the needs of others.
Sr. Pat traveled to Bridgeport, CT for her first experience in an inner city classroom setting. Before she knew it, she had fallen in love with her new setting and would remain in that area for 39 years.
Throughout Sister’s classroom career grade levels varied, although most of her time was spent in upper middle school, schools changed hands, neighborhoods grew more dangerous for these “inner city” parishes and the financial and social plight of immigrant and black families became more pronounced giving Pat more opportunities to realistically live the Gospel in and out of the classroom setting. Sister became more aware of the needs of her students and their families, and she did her best to assist wherever she could. She planned funded excursions for her students, drove mothers to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. With all of these activities piled on to her teaching day, Pat still found time to participate in CCD programs, parish council and liturgical preparation teams.
Sister never expected thank you’s or gestures of gratitude for all she did. She was simply at the service of others. Yet those she served noticed how she gave them to drink and to eat and wiped away their tears. Thus, when it was time to leave Bridgeport they gathered their resources to offer her a farewell thank you event. Everyone came, everyone shared stories and together they laughed, cried, sang and danced. One of the Associates in attendance remarked after the party that she felt as if she were in “a circle of love”.
As Sister looks back on her years as an educator she is most grateful for the students who became a living part of her life and changed it forever and for the multicultural opportunities that they and their families brought into her life. While she found it challenging to adapt to these different cultures and to meet the needs of her students without infringing upon the very essence of their lives, she managed to touch lives as they had never been touched before, to guide them in ways they had never known, to indeed, do unto them as God’s love and justice would require.
Although several years have passed since she was physically present to her ‘little ones’, the memories live on and Sr. Pat remains in contact with a good number of those whom she loved and served as she cultivated and unfolded her gifts and the charism of the Congregation to build a community of love and gratitude.
For more information on Sr. Pat and her ministries of service you may contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Sr. Pat, for sharing and making Catholic Sister’s Week 2020 so meaningful!