sister patricia gillespie


September 4, 1929 - September 8, 2011

That we all may be one

S. Patricia Gillespie knew intuitively what it means to be in right relationship as a Sister of St. Joseph when she voiced the following: "I see any ministry as a channel through which I meet people and develop relationships with them to live the gospel ministry's idea that we all can be one." Indeed, she lived this value throughout her life as teacher, guidance counselor, campus minister, director of RCIA, hospital chaplain and spiritual director, together with all their attendant programs.

S. Pat learned about "oneness" first of all from her family. She was born September 4, 1929, in Kansas City, Mo. She had one younger brother, William Gerard, whom she loved dearly. Reflecting on her family life, S. Pat noted that her parents mirrored for her and her brother their strong commitment to prayer and to the church. Her mother, she said, was her first example of a woman who had great love and devotion to God. S. Pat entered the community in the fall of 1947, as part of the famed Kansas City "crowd" and received the habit and name S. Margaret William on March 19, 1948.

Like many others of her time, she studied at Fontbonne College and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1960. Prepared for educating the young in elementary and secondary schools, she began as teacher at Holy Rosary School in St. Louis. Subsequently she taught in Indianapolis, Ste. Genevieve, Florissant and Waco.

In 1967, S. Pat earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling that launched her into a new sphere. In 1970, equipped with her degree, she took on the role of guidance counselor at St. Francis de Sales High School in Denver (1970) and at St. Teresa's Academy in Kansas City (1971). In both of these schools, students and teachers alike appreciated her peaceful spirit and her willingness to listen to them. By 1982 she felt she was prepared enough to accept the invitation to be the new spiritual counselor and campus minister at Avila College in Kansas City.

While at Avila, S. Pat established prayer groups and bible study groups; she organized retreats, volunteer programs and religious service-all on an interfaith basis so that all could share their beliefs about spirituality. Avila's faith community grew into greater oneness during her five years of ministry there, as she truly incorporated her love for the charism and her concern for the "dear neighbor" on the campus.

In the following years, she served as chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Kansas City (1987) and as director of the RCIA program at St. Thomas More Parish (1988), a six-year stint. S. Pat liked the pace of parish ministry and after a sabbatical program on holistic spirituality, she became director of the Adult Faith Development Program at Seven Holy Founders Parish in St. Louis in 1996.

At the same time she served in parish work, she involved herself as a team member with other Sisters of St. Joseph who presented charism workshops. This experience allowed S. Pat to share her expertise on the study she had done at the University of San Francisco, a two week Ignatian Symposium on Spirituality, that influenced the rest of her life. Energized and challenged with her new-found understanding about community and church, she shared her heightened learning across the province. Her last active years she gave herself to others as a spiritual director and counselor.

As her health began to fail, S. Pat decided to move to Nazareth Living Center in 2003. These last few years had been difficult for her as she sank deeper and deeper into her dementia. But now "she sees God face to face," words she chose as her theme for celebration. May this peaceful, gentle woman rest in peace.

S. Rita Louise Huebner
S. Kathleen Karbowski

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