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A tribute to our dear Sister Pat

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EDITOR: I first met Sister Pat about eighteen (18) years ago at a youth forum but got to know her more while I worked at the Ministry of Social Development and the Family Services Department. Two women who always came to the department seeking help for children and by extension parents were Sister Pat and Mrs. Miguel. Sister Pat the Principal and Mrs. Miguel the Teacher and Community worker.

With the introduction of the Teenage Mother’s Second Chance programme Sister Pat was the driving force behind it. She saw the potential in every child and vowed to help to develop. {{more}}

When a child was taken at St. Joseph’s Covent Marriaqua Sister Pat literally adopted the whole family because she cared. She felt if you were helping a student it had to be done holistically. She provided a shoulder to cry on, a nonjudgmental ear and words of wisdom to guide you through the twists and turns of life.

Foster homes were always needed. Sometimes, when I was at my wits end trying to find placement or placements for children, I would call Sister Pat, she would always say give her a day or two. Miraculously, in a day, a home would be provided.

When cases of incest arose, Sister Pat many times wanted to take the law into her hands. She was compassionate about children being abused and taken advantage of. Many times when we were temporarily short of cash Sister Pat would say to me “Mrs. Cato, have faith, God will send the answer or he will provide”. Many times I had doubts, how was X or Y going to be provided for over the next five (5) years. But Sister Pat always found a way. She made my spirituality grow and my faith deepened. She cared in such a special way.

She was the only Principal that sent a detailed report of every child that the ministry had assisted during the term. I remember an incident when she had heard that one of her students was playing truant and was going to a beach during school hour. Sister Pat drove there and of course she found the student with a male companion. Sister Pat folded her fist and boxed the guy and took the student back to school. She was fearless!

Today that student is forever grateful to Sister Pat for saving her; she graduated and is doing well in the working world.

The dream of the Home for Teenage Mothers became a reality. Sister Pat, struggling with her personal health, still persevered. Her health to her was secondary, the home and the children were her priority. Last year, when she returned from the United States of America, she called me saying she was back.

I inquired about her health, she said she was fine but in her brisk and no nonsense way told me she had met some people in the United States of America who wanted to do a documentary on the Second Chance Programme, the Home for Children with HIV, Foster Care and St Benedict Day Nursery. When I asked sister where she got the time when she was supposed to be there for her health, she jokingly said: ” But Mrs. Cato I’m alive and we would get funding if the programme is aired on television.”

Three (3) days later I received a call from C.B.S studios, they wanted to make plans for a programme to be aired on 60 minutes. I was amazed! When I called Sister Pat she said, “Oh you of little faith, you did not take me seriously”. Such was the woman, she was so driven. Unfortunately Sister Pat has gone after leaving an indelible mark on the lives of thousand of Vincentians.

To her family I wish to convey my deepest condolence and the students of St Joseph’s Covent Marriaqua and the Catholic community.

Laferne Cato

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