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Sisters in Ministry March 2012
Sister Angela Fitzpatrick lives a life of service to the elderly

Like most young Ursuline Sisters in the early 1970s, Sister Angela Fitzpatrick began as a teacher. But after just a few years, it was clear that her passion was in serving the needs of people in parishes.

“Ever since I began parish ministry, I knew I’d enjoy working with the elderly,” Sister Angela said. “I was blessed that in the beginning of my pastoral ministry, I had the support of a team, and my area of concentration was services for the elderly. I just relate well with the elderly.”

Sister Angela was an Ursuline Sister of Paola, Kan., prior to the merger of that community with the Ursulines of Mount Saint Joseph in 2008. Today, Sister Angela continues to serve the elderly in metropolitan Kansas City, helping them stay in their homes by providing service as a CSJ caregiver, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

“She’s wonderful,” said Sister Ann Landers, CSJ, who heads CSJ Care in Kansas City. “I have observed her at work, and she is very creative in communicating. I trust her with anybody,” Sister Ann said. “She has a sense of humor, and she looks around to find out what needs to be done. That’s what the clients tell me.”

Sister Angela usually cares for Al and Lucille Sondern on Tuesdays, although the Sonderns are now spending a few months in Texas during the winter: “I think she’s a big help,” Lucille Sondern said during a visit in November. “She gets things organized, makes me keep moving. If I ask her a question, she tells me the truth.”

Sister Angela spends much of her week with Janet and Peter Hyde. He has Parkinson’s disease and Sister Angela helps him shower and get dressed, makes breakfast for him and encourages him to exercise. “They have four dogs, so it means a lot to them to stay in their own home,” Sister Angela said.

She prepares lunch for the couple, does laundry and some light housekeeping. “She is part of the family,” Janet Hyde said.

In January she began serving a new couple who married about three years ago after their spouses died. “I bring them Communion, do exercises with her, go grocery shopping with him, do a little dusting, laundry or whatever else they want,” Sister Angela said. “Each person is different and I try to meet their different needs.”

Sister Angela listens to Bruce Prince-Joseph play the harpsichord in his Kansas City home in November. Until January, Sister Angela helped Prince-Joseph, 87, care for his 18-room home. He was a member of the New York Philharmonic from 25 years.

Perhaps one of her most unique clients was Bruce Prince-Joseph, 87, who she ministered to from December 2010 to January 2012. He was the lead organist, harpsichordist and pianist for Leonard Bernstein’s New York Philharmonic for 25 years, but returned to Kansas City and moved into an 18-room all-concrete house designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. Sister Angela helped him take care of the house, and kept him company. Prince-Joseph hired a housekeeper earlier this year so Sister Angela could serve another couple in need, Sister Ann said.

“Each of my clients is so interesting, they each have their own story,” Sister Angela said.

“She ministers to everybody,” said Ursuline Sister Celine Leeker, who has been friends with Sister Angela for many years. She noted that Sister Angela’s presence encouraged three women to enter the community, although they have since left. “She is generous about helping with whatever is needed,” Sister Celine said. “She’s a very good example to everybody.”

Growing up Kansan

Sister Angela was born Dorothy Irene Fitzpatrick in Emporia, Kan., about 90 minutes south of Paola, to Mike and Irene Fitzpatrick. She was the fifth of nine children, and had many of the classic middle child concerns. “I felt like I was not one of the ‘older’ ones or one of the ‘younger’ ones,” she said. “I remember thinking I was adopted because I just didn’t feel like I fit in. When I told my parents that, they laughed.”

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