Sister Patrice Cadden, MM

Born: April 11, 1904
Entered: October 15, 1925
Died: September 20, 1998

We gather this morning to remember and to celebrate the life of Sister Mary Patrice Cadden whose presence blessed our lives for almost seventy-four years as a Maryknoll Sister. Sister died peacefully at 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, September 20, 1998, in the Residential Care Unit at Maryknoll, NY. She was ninety-four years of age.

Today’s recessional song, Yahweh the Faithful One, was one of Sr. Patrice’s favorites as was the responsorial psalm: “As a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for You, my God.” Both express Sr. Patrice’s deep confidence in God’s faithfulness which sustained her throughout her many years in mission as a Maryknoll Sister.

Josephine Mary Cadden was born April 11, 1904 in County Mayo, Ireland, to Michael and Ellen McHale Cadden. Her four sisters and five brothers have all predeceased her. The Cadden family immigrated to the United States when Josephine was two years of age.

Upon arrival in the United States, the Cadden Family settled in Scranton, PA. Josephine received her primary education at St. Paul’s Academy, attended high school in Scranton and studied secretarial courses at Coleman National Business College. The family then moved to Newark, NJ where she held secretarial and bookkeeping positions for six years. At Blessed Sacrament Parish in Newark, she heard a talk given by a Maryknoll Priest who had recently returned from Korea. This, together with reading The Field Afar magazine, further whetted her interest in missions and was the turning point for her. At the age of twenty-one, on October 15, 1925, Josephine entered Maryknoll at the Venard in Clarks Summit, PA. At Reception, she received the religious name of Sister Mary Patrice, the name she retained throughout her religious life.

Sister made her First Profession April 30, 1928 at Maryknoll, NY, at which Bishop James Anthony Walsh presided. She made her Final Profession of Vows on the same date in 1931 in Honolulu. In 1929, she was assigned to Hawaii where she spent the next twenty years teaching elementary school, visiting the parents of her students in their homes, organizing the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) program in the newly formed Diocese of Honolulu and teaching religion in a hospital for people with Hansen’s Disease.

While visiting patients at the hospital, she saw a familiar face. She approached the bed and recognized a young boy she taught in fifth grade, just three years previously. She described the meeting in these words:

“Jimmy hid his head under the sheet as I approached. After a bit of coaxing he looked at me. He told me the story. Both of his parents had leprosy and his sister had died at Molokai. Now it was his turn. Jimmy was cheerful, taking the whole thing as something that had been preordained.”

After seeing and talking with Jimmy, the thought immediately came to Sister Patrice that perhaps he could help her in the project she had dreams of beginning. Shortly afterwards, she and her former student, Jimmy, began to hold regular classes in religion. With Sister’s guidance and encouragement, Jimmy became a leader and guide for the rest of the boys in the hospital. It is told that one evening Jimmy met an eighteen-year-old patient who was contemplating taking his own life. He told him about the religion classes and asked him if he would come and meet his former teacher, Sister Mary Patrice. The young man attended the classes, was baptized and later became a leader with Jimmy. He later met and married a young woman on Molokai and went on to become a leader in the community there.

Those who lived with Sister Patrice in Hawaii described her as a very active missioner, with an outgoing disposition, compassionate heart and good sense of humor, who became even more active during the war. Besides being Assistant Superior, teaching school and organizing CCD classes, she also volunteered as a nurse’s aide at St. Francis Hospital Military Unit, helping to care for the wounded from the Pacific Zone. She welcomed the soldiers and sailors to the convent and encouraged the Catholic young women to organize a “Social Club” for the men.

Sister’s ministry in Hawaii were years full of service and love. She herself, however, described in these words the following two events which left a lasting impression on her: “The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 occurred while the students were singing the Sunday High Mass. As we were only a 10-minute ride from Pearl Harbor, the explosion of the bombs seemed very close. It is difficult, indeed impossible, to describe the horror we experienced as we watched the fire shooting into the sky and billowing black smoke.” Another memorable incident was a tidal wave caused by the subterranean eruption of a volcano in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands. “It struck our convent at Lanikai on April 1, 1946. The wave which hit the convent was estimated to be 25 feet in height. The force was so great that it tore down the entire front of the house. I believe I have never been closer to death.”

In 1949, Sister was appointed Assistant Superior at the Maryknoll Sisters’ Novitiate in Valley Park, MO. Two years later, her secretarial skills were called upon and she returned to the Center to work as Secretary to Bishop Raymond A. Lane, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Sister Patrice was assigned to the Philippines in 1957, where she taught religion at Maryknoll High School in Malabon. She returned to the United States in 1962 to pursue studies at Rogers College and obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. Returning to the Philippines in 1964, she was appointed Assistant Principal and Student Counselor at Santiago.

Failing health necessitated Sister’s return to the United States in 1966. Following a period of recuperation at the Center, she went to Valley Park, MO where she remained until 1971. Sister Patrice was assigned to Monrovia, CA for two years followed by three years in Los Angeles, CA supervising new teachers in the Japanese Mission School and coordinating parish religious education classes. After Congregational Service in Archives, she returned to Monrovia in 1984. For health reasons, she returned to the Center in 1992.

Let us welcome our Maryknoll brother, Father Robert Reiley, who will preside at this Liturgy of Christian Burial, as together we praise and thank God for the gift of Sister Mary Patrice’s life.