Sister Maureen Patrice, CSC
April 5, 1927–December 27, 2021
We share news of the death of Sister Maureen Patrice (O’Keeffe), CSC, who died at 12:10 a.m. on December 27, 2021, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Maureen Patrice entered the Congregation from Brookline, Massachusetts, on October 16, 1949. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1952.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
Sister Maureen Patrice was 69 years a professed Sister of the Holy Cross when she died during the midnight hour of December 27, 2021, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. It had rained during the night and by morning, the motherhouse grounds were nearly as green as those of Ireland, where Sister’s life journey began 94 years ago.
Margaret O’Keeffe was born on a farm in Newmarket, County Cork, Ireland, on April 5, 1927. She was the youngest member of a large Catholic family. Her parents were Julia (Sheahan) O’Keeffe and Benjamin R. O’Keeffe. Her seven siblings were Daniel, Robert, Timothy, Patrick, Benjamin, Sara and Mary, all of whom predeceased her. One of her siblings was also a religious, Sister Ursula, a Rosminian Sister of Providence, also known as Sisters of Providence of the Institute of Charity (SPR). Since Margaret’s mother died when Margaret was a baby, she was reared by her aunt and uncle, Molly and Jeremiah Sheahan, on a farm near her father’s farm. She attended Catholic schools, added “Mary” to her name when confirmed, and graduated from high school in 1946. Soon afterwards, she departed for the United States to visit extended family in Boston, Massachusetts. Among them were two aunts who were Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston (CSJ). Settling in the Boston area, Margaret obtained a live-in housekeeping position with a Jewish family with two children. Their father was a rabbi. Since childhood Margaret wondered if one day she might enter the convent. That thought resurfaced after meeting Sisters of the Holy Cross as she bicycled along the beach near the house. The sisters ministered at Holy Cross Academy in Brookline, Massachusetts. Their friendliness to her and their joyful life in community led in a short time to the young housekeeper’s decision to enter the Congregation in 1949 “to work for God.” At the time of her reception of the holy habit on August 15, 1950, at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, she received her new name in religion, Sister Maureen Patrice. Sister retained the name for the rest of her life, presumably because it evoked her Irish heritage.
Sister’s first ministry assignment from 1951 to 1954 was that of sacristan in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s. For the following 17 years, she ministered in several places in the Eastern Province in loving service to each local community. As a “household sister,” she had positions as a cook, housekeeper, driver, sacristan and others. She spent only one year in Abington, Pennsylvania, but while there, she won 50 dollars’ worth of books at an educational convention and donated them to the school’s library. In November 1955, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America at a courthouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, only then learning she already had dual citizenship since her father had been born in St. Louis, Missouri. Other assignments were to The Academy of the Holy Cross and Saint Angela Hall in Kensington, Maryland, and Holy Cross Academy. During those years, she completed courses in theology, pastoral ministry, geriatrics and dietary studies. Sister Maureen Patrice’s deep faith in God was evident to the sisters with whom she lived as were the many talents she exhibited in her duties. Examples include her culinary excellence and the beautiful floral arrangements she created.
In 1971, Sister Maureen Patrice returned to Saint Angela Hall, where she served as superior and chief administrator to a retirement community of about 40 sisters from 1979 to 1984. The sisters deeply appreciated her compassion and concern for them. When her term as superior ended in 1984, she visited family in Ireland for the first half of a sabbatical year. On her return to Maryland, she spent the remainder of her sabbatical visiting the elderly and the sick as a volunteer in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bethesda, Maryland. It was there that she was compared to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The locals affectionately called her “Mother Teresa of Bethesda.” Her car’s Maryland license plate started with the tag TLM. Parishioners said the initials stood for Tender Loving Maureen. The pastor, Monsignor William O’Donnell, was so pleased that he had hired her to minister full time. For 22 years, from 1984 to 2006, she gave herself wholeheartedly to this mission while living at The Academy of the Holy Cross Convent. Monsignor O’Donnell gave her a lasting tribute at the time of her retirement in 2006: “Sister Maureen Patrice has the gift of caring for the sick and the elderly with patience and love. In addition, she has familiarized herself with the resources in the community that support this type of service. She shares this expertise not only to those in the parish that need such assistance but also to members of the general community. She is well known and loved throughout the parish and general community.”
In 2008, Sister moved to Saint Mary’s Convent. Community life provides the opportunity for many friendships, such as hers with Sister Miriam Andre (Williams), CSC, who died in 2007. Sister Maureen Patrice leaves behind many caring sister friends, nurses and other staff at the motherhouse. After years of poor health, her life’s journey now ends in the Octave of Christmas. Light has dawned this new day for Sister Maureen Patrice and God is with her.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Sister Grace Shonk, CSC