“My decision to become a Sister wasn’t a quick one; there was lots of questioning on my part.”
As a young girl, Pat Kennedy dreamed of being a wife and mother. Yet, at the same time, she says, there was a persistent tug to vowed life.
She lovingly recalls parents who were devout Catholics, loving, hardworking people, partners as parents and in the family restaurant they ran in Saginaw. Pat and her sisters all learned to help with meals at home as young girls and later, along with two brothers, also worked in the restaurant. At the restaurant “family” extended to friends and neighbors. “It was wonderful; I really enjoyed preparing and serving food and interacting with everybody.”
“Most evenings, my mother and I would sit together, and she would tell me stories over tea and toast. One night, she told me she’d always wanted to be a nun. And how she prayed for a daughter to take her place. You see, her father died when she was just 16 and she quit school in 8th grade to go to work to help her mother support and raise her nine siblings.”
“Well, there were two of us girls not yet married with children. And I thought, well, my sister will do it. I loved kids. My goal is to be a mother and have 12 children.”
“I was close to a nun at school; she was the music teacher at St. Mary Cathedral School in Saginaw, which I attended from 1st to 12th grade. Another nun told me there were a few girls traveling to see Aquinas College and that Marywood was right across the street, and we could stop by after the college tour. She encouraged me to go along. I did and after the Aquinas visit, we stopped at Marywood and met with Mother Victor.”
“Mother Victor was just wonderful. So kind and thoughtful, helpful, truly a mother figure. Our visit was in June and she sent me on my way with paperwork. I moved to Grand Rapids to become a candidate in September.”
Sister Pat (also known as Sister Leah Marie) would attend Aquinas and earn a bachelor’s degree in education. “That was such an accomplishment for me.”
But it was her ministry in food service that was her passion. “My love for cooking started when I was 13 when mom taught me to bake. Cooking was in my blood.” Her ministries leaned toward food service for 28 years. Then in 1982, she was called to be a house mother in a boarding school in Harbor Springs where she helped 12 little girls aged six to 12 years old with studies and homework.
“I had a chance to be a mother, a teacher, to 12 little girls. For me, that was so life-giving. What a thrill to nurture and celebrate my girls’. One little one, Chrissy, came flying into the house one day and she was just climbing the walls. I said, Chrissy, what’s wrong? She said, “I got an A on my math test!” She had so much difficulty with the multiplication tables and we grilled and grilled together each night. To be there for those moments, to be teacher, to be mother, was awesome. God gave me my 12 kids; it is amazing how our lives come to be.”
Read more about the life of this Jubilarian, 60 years a Sister.