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Living the Mystery Sister Virginia Patrick

"I first learned of the Sisters of Divine Providence when I was in the middle of the fifth grade," says Sister Virginia. "My family moved from Washington, D.C., to Takoma Park, Maryland. We lived right across the street from our Lady of Sorrows school where the Sisters taught and I finished grade school. The convent was just down the street so we had lots of contact with the Sisters and they kept an eye on us kids and what we were up to!"

Still, a few were surprised when she expressed an interest in becoming a Sister, "because I was such a tomboy!" she recalls. Her parents were supportive, though, and she never wavered in her decision.

"I had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and I once had a dream in which I told someone I was going to be a Sister—a teacher, because that's all I knew about the Sisters." But even while she pursued this goal, Sister Virginia soon realized that teaching wasn't her destiny.

"I wasn't a 'real' student. I soon knew teaching wasn't my calling. So when I made First Profession I didn’t know where or what was in store for me."

As it turns out, there was plenty in store. Sister Virginia was a sacristan at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and a cook at Theological College. When she moved to Baltimore she "made the rounds" of three Sulpician seminaries as cook. She soon brought her skills closer to home, cooking at the CDP Provincial House many times and acting as director of food service at Holy Family Home for seven years.

In the early 1980s she cooked at the CDP international house of studies in Rome. Then she made a slight change.

"I became a nurse aide at the Knott County Nursing Home in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. It was six years of hard work but I loved the contact with the people and it became one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. And it was this experience that prepared me for my fourteen-year ministry in Ecuador, in South America. That ministry being a Providence presence to the folks there, sharing in their lives and work — it was a blessed, happy and spiritually transformational time for me."

Sister Virginia now serves at the Jeanne d'Arc Residence for Women in Manhattan. Home to 140 women from forty-two countries, it's a very different ministry. But "I still am able to be the Sisters regular cook along with other responsibilities—keeping order in the library" as well as acting as receptionist at the front entrance. She loves the atmosphere of New York and the women who live at Jeanne d'Arc.

"I love knowing their names and something about them and, hopefully, being that joyful, loving presence of Providence," she says.

When she thinks of that first decision to become a CDP, she reflects, "If I could tell my younger self something about life as a Sister it would be don’t be afraid to be who you are. I realize now that I was on the right track, even if it was cloudy and difficult lots of the time. I was where God wanted me and God was/is with me."

"Life is not a problem to be solved," she says, "but a mystery to be lived."

Credits:

Created with an image by Zdeněk Macháček - "untitled image"