2015 Jubilarian – Patricia (Ann Michelle) Westover
Sister Patricia Westover grew up in Monroe with her seven siblings, just a block-and-a-half away from St. Mary Church. She attended St. Mary Elementary School and then went to St. Mary Academy.
“I was blessed to be taught by these women who clearly loved teaching, Sister Pat recalls. “The days were a quintessential IHM experience. My everyday experiences at school formed the foundation of my vocation. They reinforced the lessons of prayer, service and ministry I learned at home, intimately bound together in faith, prayer, study and service.”
She joined the IHM community right after she graduated from the Academy. Feeling called to a religious vocation, she “just knew this is what I had to do.” She came to the congregation to find out if indeed it was the right fit; teaching was secondary to a religious life. At the time, there were not many opportunities for women to serve in the Church.
Sister Pat was first sent to Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to teach biology and then to Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, Ill. While there, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and Sister Pat wanted to be closer to home. She came back to Michigan and served as a nurses’ aide in the Motherhouse Infirmary for a year before teaching at Lumen Christi High School in Jackson, Mich. Afterward, she went to Providence-St. Mel in Chicago where she taught biology and later became the dean of students.
Providence-St. Mel is in a high crime area, and students’ home life is challenging. Seeing them work through these challenges and go on to attend colleges and universities was very rewarding, but after 20 years, Sister Pat realized the environment had worn her down and it was time to leave.
She accepted a position at Mother Theodore Guerin High School in River Grove and taught for a couple of months when she fell and broke her femur in three places. After her recuperation, she was unable to stand for long periods of time, which ended her teaching ministry. She began working with medically fragile adults who also had profound intellectual disabilities. She currently serves as a case manager, directing clients’ care. “It really is rewarding work,” she notes.
Sister Pat completed her master’s degree in educational supervision at DePaul University. She also has many post-graduate hours in biology. Her greatest joy since joining the IHM community has been the “opportunity to minister to the individuals I have been fortunate enough to have come into my life.” She enjoys seeing what wonderful people her students have become: “It really is touching.” She is grateful for the “support of the community, being part of a community that is so graced. The IHMs just amaze me how much they love each other and love the ministry.” Sister Pat remains inspired to serve the “poorest and those who have the greatest need.”