Sister Ann Patrice Cecil completed her ministry as assistant to the congregational secretary in 2016, but continues as postmaster.
Visitors to the office of congregational leader (superior) Sister Michele Morek are greeted by Sister Ann Patrice Cecil, a polite, soft-spoken woman with a pleasant voice and a very professional demeanor. Sister Ann Patrice serves as secretary to Sister Michele and the Council, the leadership team of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. It’s quite apparent Sister Ann Patrice knows her job. She knows about the Ursuline Sisters, about the leadership team, and about her “boss,” Sister Michele. She’s a no-nonsense type person who does her job in a quiet but productive manner. It appears she wouldn’t shout if she could talk, wouldn’t run if she could walk, and certainly wouldn’t be an individual you’d find riding a raft through whitewater rapids. But…
“In the summer for the last 13 years, Sister Michele, Sister Sharon Sullivan (associate professor of education and special education at Brescia University) and I have been going tent camping,” says Sister Ann Patrice with a sparkle in her eye and a lilt in her voice. “My favorite place to go is Michigan because of the Great Lakes…and it’s cooler up there at nights. We’ve been canoeing, tubing and whitewater rafting. I really look forward to it, it sort of renews me for the whole year. I have so many wonderful memories. You know, I can close my eyes and I can see lush green woods, gushing waterfalls, lovely wildflowers, towering mountains and ocean vistas.”
She continued, “Sister Sharon is a former Girl Scout leader, so she gets to pick out the spot where we pitch our tent. After we settle in our sleeping bags for the night, Michele and I eagerly await Sharon’s bedtime story read by flashlight.
“While tent camping you leave the comforts of the civilized world behind and get back to basics, sleeping on the cold, hard ground and cooking over a fire. State parks are a great place to experience God’s grandeur in nature with well-maintained hiking trails. We traipse off into the deep woods in pursuit of wildflowers, plants, trees, and wildlife native to the area. Along the way we experience nature up close while encountering incredible waterfalls, streams and rock formations. At the close of the day we pray evening prayer together while watching the sun set on the water. As a child I loved the sunsets at the close of the day. We had all this wide-open space on the farm where you could see the sunsets and camping reminds me of this. It’s just like being a child again!”
Sister Sharon says three thoughts come to mind when she thinks of Sister Ann Patrice and the camping trips they have shared — peace-filled, complete and filled with awe. She says, “As a peace-filled person, Sister Ann Patrice brings that peaceful stance to every situation; in her presence you feel your own peace.
“She is completely who she is — a child of God. She does not need validation from any other source; so, when I’m with her, I too am free to be both ‘only’ and ‘completely’ who I am. We don’t need any extras.”
“And Sister Ann Patrice is filled with awe. Perhaps that’s true of each of the three of us. We are as likely to be completely absorbed by a quarter-inch bud on a starry Solomon’s Seal as a double sunset suffusing the entire horizon. With whom else can you stand shivering in the middle of the night on your way back from the latrine just to let the Milky Way wash over you?”
Sister Michele sees a relationship between Sister Ann Patrice’s office work and her camping skills. She says, “Sister Ann Patrice uses her organizational skills to research places for our camping trips, and is always game for anything — including whitewater rafting!”