Earlier this month we gathered in this chapel to celebrate James Patrice’s ninety-ninth birthday. Both of these times are a celebration of life, a long life, poured out, lived well for the sake of others.
As Sisters of Saint Joseph we live our lives to proclaim the gospel message of Jesus to love God and neighbor without distinction. Jesus was a teacher by word and action. He was present to the ills and injustices of the world in a particular time in history but the gospel message is relevant and so important for all time and this time. When we see the domination, exclusion, self-degradation and fierce competition prevalent in our world today, Jesus’s message of compassion, welcome and reconciliation is critical if we are to create a just and peaceful society.
The deeper our relationship with God the clearer the imperative will be to teach as Jesus taught. James Patrice knew her God and knew the message of compassion, faithfulness and presence. She was also a gifted teacher. In her field of languages, especially Latin, clear and consistent teaching nurtured skill and confidence in her students. But the lessons were not only academic but formative in the lives of countless students. Relationships were so important for James with her sisters Eileen and our sister Miriam Dolores and all of Eileen’s children. Family gatherings and celebrations were treasured by James as were her friendships in the congregation, with Mary Sheridan, the sisters in Mary Louis and in this our motherhouse.
James’ relationships with her students were also so very important to her. From elementary school at Immaculate Conception, St John’s and St. Joachim’s to high school at Bishop McDonald, St. Agnes and her beloved Mary Louis, ties with her students were so meaningful for her and for them. Strong bonds led students to gather for re-unions, travel from afar to celebrate her birthday and these meetings were not about Latin but a tribute to how James had influenced their lives. Yes James was a sister, aunt, teacher and she did teach as Jesus taught. We are grateful for the gift of her life and now James can enjoy the fullness of compassion, kindness and love with the God who loved her unconditionally.
Sister James Patrice Veale, CSJ died on March 26, 2014 in the 79th year of her religious life.