2015 Jubilarian, Celebrating 60 Years as a Religious of the Sacred Heart
By Pat Munch, RSCJ
The fifth of nine children I was born in Omaha, Nebraska on December 21, 1933. I was blessed to have devoted parents who worked hard and made many sacrifices to provide for us. They were strong in their faith and taught us about God, helped us learn our prayers and made certain that we learned to take responsibility for our actions. They also made sure that and were instructed in our Catholic faith.
Since there were so many of us we always had plenty of companionship. Life centered round activities within the home and we shared chores and the care of our younger siblings.
My three older sisters, one of whom Mary, is also an RSCJ were born about a year apart follow two years later by my older brother. They were the “big kids” and I who was two years younger than my brother was never allowed to do the things they did. I wanted so much to be able to take part in their activities but was always, “too young.” Many a day I acted out or did things just to annoy them as a result.
We lived across the street from the parochial school which I attended beginning with Kindergarten. My First Communion Day was a very special day for me. I had looked forward to being able to receive the Eucharist for a long time. I think that the seed of my vocation was planted in my heart that day. I remember feeling what must have been my first spiritual consolation. To this day I remember the exact spot where it happened as I was walking back to the bench after receiving Holy Communion as the choir was singing, “O Lord I am not worthy.” I had such a warm feeling in my heart. It was up until then the happiest day of my life.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood were dedicated very strict and taught us well. However they showed little warmth. In my sophomore year I transferred to Duchesne Academy where a whole new world opened for me. In contrast with the teachers at my former school the nuns at Duchesne were happy and respected us as persons. The whole atmosphere of the school was one of acceptance and love. I felt so blest to be there.
During my years at Duchesne I experienced an extraordinary spirit of love. It was evident that the religious loved one another were happy and they loved us. That attracted me and I wanted to be part of what they were. I wanted to pass on to others what they had passed on to me. During retreat in my senior year I became aware that the Lord was calling me to the religious life. However, I pushed the thought away several times and struggled with the idea during the following months. It was during the movie, “An American in Paris” that I realized the emptiness of wealth and a frivolous life that in comparison with one dedicated to the lord that I made my decision to enter the Society of the Sacred Heart. It was because I had experienced the extraordinary spirit of love at Duchesne that I could respond to the call.
During my early religious life I taught the lower grades at Duchesne Academy in Omaha, Chicago and Lake Forest. After my final profession I became the Mother Assistant for several years. I then taught he First Grade at our school in Cincinnati for several years. Once we were no longer semi-cloistered I requested permission to study nursing so that I could care for our elderly religious. I graduated from Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Cincinnati and moved to Omaha where I worked in the Cardiac Care Unit in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Omaha for two years in order to get more experience. For several years I had charge of the Barat Infirmary for our older religious. After completing an internship in Clinical Pastor Education I spent seven years as a chaplain at Mercy Care Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Following that I was the Director of Pastoral Care at St. Patrick Church on Miami Beach in Florida for ten years and at Our Lady of the Lakes Church in Miami Beach, Florida for fifteen years. Those were my favorite ministries. I loved being part of the parish staffs working with them to spread the love of the lord to people of all ages. It was such a privilege to enter so intimately into the lives of parishioners to lend an ear, visit the sick, comfort the dying, console family members in their grief as well as to rejoice in the births, baptisms, marriages and other happy events. It was a joy to be able to touch so many lives.
I think Saint Madeleine Sophie would be so pleased with the efforts her daughters are making today to serve the lord and the church of the twenty first century. She would approve of the many ways we are trying tor to the many needs of our modern world just as she did in her day. Though we are involved in varied ministries we continue to realize the need for our dependence on God and living a prayerful life.