2019 Jubilarian – Patricia Nagle

Sister Patricia Nagle was born Mary Katherine Nagle, the fourth child of John Nagle (of Irish descent), and Zella Levesque (of French-Canadian and Irish ancestry). She was born in Lewiston, Idaho along the Snake River, a major tributary of the great Columbia River. She says that her internal geography is shaped by the West; wide open spaces, alluring mountains and a vast ocean beckoning her to people and countries beyond.

Mary was raised in Pullman, Wash., in the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. This area is known for its rolling hills of wheat and legumes and Washington State University. She attended public school in Pullman from grades one through eight. Drawn to a life of service in the example of an aunt and cousin, both sisters serving as educators, she attended a Catholic high school nearby and was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) from Mankato, Minn. The sisters had migrated to the West to serve in the “home missions,” – Washington State was considered an “unchurched” area.

As high school graduation approached, Mary decided to enter the SSND community in Minnesota. Her dad asked, “Why are you going so far? You belong in the West. Aren’t there sisters out here?” His young, headstrong daughter said that she didn’t know those sisters and left for Minnesota, traveling alone by train across the country on an adventure!

The geography of the Midwest was constraining for Mary (by now, Sister Patricia) and the years there were difficult. She grew to appreciate the spirit of the SSND community, yet knew she was not at home. During her years as an SSND Sister, she taught in high school and served in Guatemala. These experiences shaped her in deepening a commitment to serve those who live on the edge. She was committed to the emerging liberation theology and the empowerment of the indigenous people.

Returning from Guatemala, Pat asked not to return to the classroom. She spent several years at the Kresge House of Prayer with Sister Ann Chester and other IHM Sisters of Monroe, Mich. During these years, she came to know the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in 1976 transferred communities.

As an IHM, Sister Pat has served as chaplain at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and in hospice ministry. In 1987, she returned to the West to California to study at John F.  Kennedy University. During her studies, she met Sharon Joyer, SNDdeN, and began Earth Home Ministries. Together with neighbors in northwest Oakland, they started the Lillie Luckett Community Garden, a neighborhood “experiment” of a community working together to heal relationships with Earth and each other, our city, our world. Parallel to this, Pat was invited to serve on a committee in Oakland working toward creating sustainable communities.

Presently, Pat serves In Alameda, Calif., with several local community service outreach programs; for homeless community members; affordable housing for all; refugee and immigrant resettlement; always keeping her antenna up to spot signs of oppression.