Sister Ann Patrice Cecil: “…I learned to care for the earth and nurture the soil at an early age.”

She left the classroom in 1982 to become secretary to superior Sister Mary Irene Cecil and the council for six years and then to Sister Mary Matthias Ward and the council for one year.

For the next three years, Sister Ann Patrice served as secretary and bookkeeper for the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center before spending a year in family ministry with her sister Margaret, (who had multiple sclerosis) and also worked at Lourdes Home Care in Paducah.

The next five years she spent in the Brescia University library — as serials librarian, and later as receptionist for Brescia.

Sister Ann Patrice picks up the mail from Sister Francis Joseph in the Maple Mount post office.

Sister Ann Patrice returned to Mount Saint Joseph to serve as secretary to superior/congregational leader Sister Rose Marita O’Bryan and the council for eight years and – for the last two years – secretary to Sister Michele Morek and the council.

As leadership secretary her first responsibility is to Sister Michele, “doing whatever she asks me to do.” This may include the mailing each month of a letter to the sisters, communications to the sisters from the leadership team, death notices, job openings, etc.

Most of the communication with the sisters is done by email. An estimated 85 percent of the sisters are using email. Those not using email receive information by mail. “Sister Marie Carol Cecil assists me in my ministry, says Sister Ann Patrice. “She’s a good typist and is very well organized.”

Sister Ann Patrice is also responsible for keeping the official records on the individual sisters.

When asked about the leadership secretary, Sister Michele answered with pride, “Sister Ann Patrice is a community treasure (and you can quote me on that!) Careful, patient, resourceful, and completely confidential — she is all one could wish for in a secretary. As a bonus, she is unfailingly kind to all; she really works hard to fulfill special needs and requests. I have never seen her impatient or out of sorts.” She adds with a smile, “I wish I could clone her a couple of hundred times.”

Sister Ann Patrice enjoys fishing in the Maple Mount park lake with Glenmary novices Crispin Adongo (l.) and Craig Digmann. Crispin says, “She’s a good fishing lady.”

Sister Ann Patrice echoes Sister Michele’s kind words when she talks about her. “Sister Michele is a woman of courage and vision,” she says. She has a genuine love for community. She is also a very caring person. She respects the individual uniqueness of each sister. Of the 173 sisters, 84 are living away from Mount Saint Joseph. Sister Michele especially enjoys visiting the sisters and learning more about their ministries. Our older retired sisters have a special place in her heart.”

Sister Ann Patrice can be seen almost every day walking the beautiful grounds at the Mount. She says, “I take some time each day for exercise. I walk outside in the great outdoors whenever I can. I love the grounds and fields at the Mount. The care and nurture that I had for the soil when I was growing up…I see that here.”

She also has had a lifelong love for fishing. “I followed my dad and grandfather around and went fishing with them on Sundays,” she says. “This summer I went fishing with Crispin and Craig.”

She was referring to Glenmary novices Crispin Adongo and Craig Digmann, who are presently residing and studying at the Mount. Both were impressed with Sister Ann Patrice’s fishing skills.

Craig says she revived fishing skills he had originally been taught by his grandfather many years ago. “It had been almost 40 years since I’d fished with my grandfather,” he explained, “but Sister taught me how to put the worm on the hook, how to scout the lake for the fish and, most important, how to catch them.”

Crispin, who hails from Kenya, Africa, says, “My tribe back home is known for its fishing skills, but I was still impressed by Sister’s fishing skills, how she baited the hooks and cast the lines. She’s a good fishing lady.”

Working in the leadership office has given Sister Ann Patrice a more direct vision of the mission of the sisters working in leadership.

“Our congregational leadership team consists of the congregational leader, the assistant congregational leader and three councilors who are elected for six years,” she explains. “They collaborate together as a team to govern the community. They stand in prophetic witness to gospel values by responding to the signs of the times and the needs of the church. They guide our community in mission.

“Our Constitution states that religious governance is a service of love. The exercise of authority reveals a loving God who is among us as one who serves. This service provides a basic unity and stability necessary for growth, preserves and fosters the spirit of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, and ensures the coordination of the various gifts and talents of the sisters.

“I have developed a deep respect for leadership and leadership teams and the responsibilities that they have. I have a great admiration for our leadership. They have been really wonderful to work with.”