Sisters in Ministry Update:
In 2009, Sister Pat Rhoten left St. John Berchmans School and served as the archives assistant at the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph Motherhouse until 2018. She is now the community librarian.
“She had a special place in her heart……for the kids that were poor……and I was poor.
“She had a special place in her heart……for the kids who had no study skills……and I had no study skills.
“She had a special place in her heart……for this little country bumpkin who wanted always to do the right thing, but had never been encouraged to know how intelligent I really was.
“She’s the reason I’m an Ursuline sister.”
Sister Pat Rhoten, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph and a junior high teacher at the Cathedral of Saint John Berchmans School in Shreveport, Louisiana, was talking about Sister Victoria Brohm, principal during her senior year at Lourdes High School in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Sister Pat had heard God’s calling to religious life during her senior year at Lourdes and went to Sister Victoria for guidance. She says, “I went into Sister Victoria’s very small office simply to ask if there was a form or something that I would fill out if I was interested, but before I knew it, she flew around that desk, hugging me and saying she just knew I was going to do this. When I walked out of her office I remember thinking ‘this is the right thing to do.’ I knew it the minute I walked out that door.
“I can literally see the school. I can see what I was wearing. I can see everything, because I knew when I walked out that door that I was meant to be a nun. I knew it, on the spot!”
The “country bumpkin” who would become an Ursuline sister is a native of Palmyra, Nebraska, the oldest by 10 years of two daughters and three sons born to David and Mildred Rhoten. Her father was a farmer until Sister Pat was in the seventh grade and he left the farm to work as a wholesale meat salesman. Her mother worked for the K.D. Box Company, the Elgin Watch Factory, and she was a telephone operator. “My mother could do just about anything,” Sister Pat fondly recalls. Her mother, 84, now resides in Nebraska City. Her father died of cancer at the age of 48.
Sister Pat’s education began in a one-room schoolhouse near Palmyra. She attended grades kindergarten through six in the one-room school and was in the seventh grade there when her family moved to Nebraska City, and she attended Nebraska City Junior High School the rest of that school year. For eighth grade she attended Saint Mary Grade School in Nebraska City, and was taught by Sister Mary Jude Cecil, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph. It was her first experience in a Catholic school, but not her first contact with Mount Saint Joseph Ursulines. When she was growing up in Palmyra, Ursuline sisters would come from Nebraska City each summer to teach summer school at St. Leo, their home parish.
The following year Sister Pat entered high school at Saint Bernard Academy, located across the street from Saint Mary. The summer after her freshman year, they began tearing down part of the academy and building Lourdes High School. After starting her sophomore year in the remains of the old academy building, Pat and her sophomore classmates moved into the new high school building in December.
Sister Joseph Miriam Logsdon was Pat’s principal her freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school, Sister Victoria was named principal her senior year. Sister Victoria gave Pat and her classmates a special presentation following their high school graduation. Sister Pat recalls, “She gave each of us a statue of the Blessed Mother and called it our Academy Award because we were the last class to have school in the old academy building.”