Meet Pat McGrath

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pat McGrath is one of the original Darby Associates. She, along with the other founding members Joanne Jones and Cathy Moore, give inspiration to us each and everyday.Pat grew up in a home where spiritual and corporal works were a given. She went to a high school named after St. Therese of Lisieux (Little Flower) and was indoctrinated with her history, life story, and “little way.” She started the diploma school of nursing in September 1951. While there a patient, Father Brasselle, asked her to take a package of his to St. Joseph’s Villa, a home for retired priests in Darby, PA. When she went on a cold and sleeting winter day in March of 1952, she had no idea it was “planned” that she would meet a Sister of Bon Secours, Sister Emerentianne. She got her warm, dry and fed, then gave her a tour of all the Darby facilities and sent her on her way. The next day she told her mother that she was going to become a Sister of Bon Secours. Three months later on July 16, 1952, she did just that! Dorothy Brogan and Justine Cyr also entered that day.

Pat was a very happy Sister. The call to give “good help” to the sick and dying came naturally to her because of her upbringing; visiting the sick and burying the dead were some of thevirtues that she shared with St. Therese.

Pat chose to leave the consecrated life after Vatican Two.  She continued her philosophy and spiritual life as an Associate and with the help of grace, it has flowered and bloomed.

In July of 1980, Sister Justine Cyr announced that the Community would be initiating an Associate group to share in its mission and asked individuals to join. In June of 1982 from an original group of twenty-eight, twelve women made a commitment as Associates. Pat liked that the same number of women who made their commitment to the Associate group was also the number of women that made their first vows as Bon Secours Sisters. Eventually the Sisters left Darby but the Associates continued to meet in their small faith community. Of the original twelve, eight have died.  A few times during the past 36+ years there were times when only two people could make the meeting but they still continued to meet. Then a funny thing happened, once again the Darby Associates are now a group of (12).  Nine of us meet regularly; three are prayer partners due to distance or illness. Pat says her commitment is strengthened each time she attends an Assembly with the Sisters.  She loves the retreats where she gets to interact with so many Associates from near and far. Also, retreat is a place to pray with, play with, spendquality time with her own group members and she firmly believes it strengthened our trust in and prayer with each other.

Time of her life post Convent:  Professionally Pat has presided over individual and group counseling sessions and worked part-time for twenty years at Friend’s Hospital, a mental hospital whose Quaker philosophy was very akin to her own “there is that of God in every man”. She also worked at a Community Mental Health Center in North Philadelphia.  There she developed a deeper appreciation for the poor, for the disenfranchised (black, Puerto Ricans, poor, alcohol and drug users), and for her beloved mentally ill clients.  She taught Psychiatric Nursing to Master level students at University of Pennsylvania and at Holy Family University.  Many of her students were worried that they just didn’t know what to say to their patients.  Pat would advise them that while listening make a brief request to the Holy Spirit to guide their response.

She truly believes that her professional life enabled her to see things more clearly and to see that we are all more the same than not, that we are all a reflection of God! She has been richly blessed in being able to care for directly the sick and dying she has the love and patience to be able to sit at the hospital bedside of uncountable extended and immediate family members. Since Pat has retired she has done the same thing for many of her neighbors.  She has made it a part of my journey to continue living the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and can now say that she has performed at least one of each.

Every day Pat prays the old fashioned way: saying the rosary, reading scripture or other spiritual readings, meditating, communing with nature in all its forms. She can observe a caterpillar, bird, flower for long periods of time and see, feel and taste the loving hand of the Creator, the healing hands of the Savior and the life-giving gifts of the Spirit. She highly recommends renewal through time spent quietly with nature.