Our dear Sister Patricia Crowley, OSB, 84, passed away peacefully the afternoon of Saturday, October 14th. We thank God for her life; the impact she had on our community and generations of our alumnae as well as many others in Chicago and beyond. She passed into the loving arms of God; the Sisters and her family who have gone before her are there to welcome her. Mass of Resurrection for Sister Patricia will be November 4, 2023 at St. Nicholas Church, St. John XXIII Parish, Evanston at 10:00 am with visitation from 9:00-10:00. Burial at Calvary Cemetery, Evanston immediately following. Livestream for the Mass is also available here.
Please join us in thanking God for her remarkable life!
Sister Patricia Crowley meets with Pope Francis in 2016 as part of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum
Patricia Ann Crowley was born in Chicago on May 13, 1939, the first child of Patrick and Patricia Caron Crowley. Her Baptism was in St. Gertrude Church on June 11. Patricia’s siblings were Joan, Mary Ann, Patrick, Cathy, Theresa and Al Augustine, one of many foster-siblings.
Her 1st-3rd grade education was at Sacred Heart Convent in Lake Forest, Illinois and her 4th-8th grade education was at Saint Joseph in Wilmette, Illinois. For high school she attended St. Scholastica in Chicago. Upon graduation from high school in 1957 she went on to Trinity College in Washington D.C. for one year before entering the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago in 1958 where she received the name Sister Mary Patrick. Her final vows were pronounced in 1965.
She received her B.A. in English Literature from Loyola University, M.A. in Catechetical Theology from the Manhattan College in New York, and held honorary doctorate degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary, Elmhurst College, and St. Mary of the Woods College in Terra Haute, Indiana. Sr. Patricia taught elementary grades at St. Lambert Parish in Skokie, Illinois and at Queen of All Saints in Chicago. She then served as instructor in English, Theology and French at St. Scholastica High School in Chicago for twelve years.
Beginning in 1979, her role was as the executive director of the Howard Area Community Center. During her 10-year time in that position, the organization expanded to include neighborhood daycare and health-related services. Priority to her own community at St. Scholastica Monastery was consistently of importance for Sr. Patricia and willingly given. Often this demanded that she step back from external ministries. She assisted Sr. Colette Westrick as Subprioress. While serving as Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago from 2007-2015, Sr. Patricia also held the position of President of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses.
Sister Patricia at Leadership Conference of Women Religious with former Deborah's Place Board Member Dana Brink
Throughout her life, Sr. Patricia’s concern for the homeless was evident. She served as Executive Director of Deborah’s Place, which provides shelter, supportive housing and services to homeless women in Chicago. Then, working first as a consultant, she became Executive Director of Chicago Continuum of Care, a 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city. In addition, she was a founding Board member of Dehon House, Housing Opportunities for Women and the Partnership to End Homelessness.
In spearheading the efforts to make a home for young immigrant women in detention, in 2017 Sr. Patricia gathered representatives of several religious communities to found Bethany House of Hospitality. Young women turning 18 in child detention centers could now be placed in a homelike setting allowing them to thrive, get work, and prepare for adulthood. Since opening, Bethany House has welcomed more than sixty women from countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and Central America. Until very recently, Sr. Patricia had arranged day-long retreats for homeless women at St. Scholastica Monastery while being part of the Ignatian Spirituality Program.
All the while Sr. Patricia continued to actively serve, her good works were being recognized and awarded. The Daniel A. Lord Award, Chicago Call to Action Award, Impact Award and St. Francis Cabrini Award are just a few of the many awards she received.
Sister Patricia at a Muslim Benedictine dialogue March 2019.
It was her good fortune to have the chance to travel abroad, using her skills as a spiritual director. A year in Namibia, Africa, serving as the spiritual director for women in religious formation was a highlight in 2019-2020.
Sister Patricia receiving an award for her work with the Ignatian Spirituality Project
Recognized as a woman who was a particularly personable speaker, Sr. Patricia willingly spoke of her own experiences to groups. Two examples were “My Journey -Your Journey” at Saint Ann’s Parish, in Barrington, Illinois, and “Journey with the Poor” for the Ladies’ Theology Group in Park Ridge, Illinois.
Sister Patricia facilitating the election of prioress at Monasterio Santa Escolastica, Puerto Rico
Her leadership skills were shared generously on numerous Boards. Among them were Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Chicago Religious Leaders Network on Latin America, the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs, Chicago Call to Action, Chicago Peace Council, Network and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, as well as on the sub-committee of Mayor Harold Washington’s Task Force on homelessness.
Sr. Patricia with novices from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters, Windhoek Priory, Namibia
Sr. Patricia dealt with justice rooted in spirituality even after she herself was diagnosed with cancer. It was a stroke which finally brought a rapid decline in her health. and the necessity of her being placed in hospice care in St. Scholastica Monastery’s infirmary.
During the last months of her illness, family members were able to freely visit and she was comforted to have their presence and consolation. Even as gradually she was unable to speak, she seemed to be quite aware of her condition and grateful for all that was being done for her comfort. She died peacefully on October 14, 2023.
Sister Patricia with the Board of the Bethany House of Hospitality
“Patsy,” as she was known by dear ones, is survived by her sisters Mary Ann Kono, Cathy George, Theresa, foster-brother Al Augustine, many extended family members and her Benedictine Sisters. The countless people she served during her lifetime will remain her legacy.