Sister Patricia Schofield, OSF:
Sister Mom Brings Real-Life Experience to the Ministry
Mother of eight, grandmother of six and great grandmother of 15, Sister Patricia Schofield, OSF, is appropriately and affectionately called “Sister Mom” by family and friends. Sister Pat took a roundabout path to become a Franciscan nun, but she believes God was preparing her for this destination throughout her life journey.
“The Lord was bringing me along – through the life of the Spirit and through the Franciscan Sisters,” says Sister Pat, a chaplain at St. Francis Hospice. “This has always been my love – caring for the sick and the elderly. I had the Franciscan heart. He was leading me right that way all along. It worked out beautifully.”
When she turned 16, Sister Pat volunteered at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, New York, which was founded by Saint Marianne. At St. Elizabeth Hospital, Sister Pat was first introduced to caring for the sick. She entered the Daughters of Charity convent in Emmitsburg, Maryland, at age 17. But her time with the religious order was short-lived.
After pursuing a teaching degree at Adelphi University, she eventually married and raised a family. Sister Pat and her family attended several parishes where the Sisters of St. Francis served as teachers. Drawn to the Franciscan way of life, she joined the Secular Franciscan Order, a community of Catholic men and women who pattern their lives after Christ in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.
After working as a teacher for 30 years in Utica public schools, while also raising eight children, Sister Pat eventually entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities at the age of 53.
As part of her religious formation, she served as pastoral minister at St. Joseph Hospital Health System in Syracuse, New York, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis. In Syracuse, she also attended the Franciscan Church of the Assumption, the church where Saint Marianne professed her final vows in 1963.
Three years after serving at St. Joseph, Sister Pat was asked to serve in Honolulu. Like Saint Marianne, who more than 130 years ago responded to God’s call to come to Hawaii to care for those who were considered outcasts because they contracted Hansen’s disease, Sister Pat said “yes” to her Island assignment.
“It didn’t even dawn on me how much Saint Marianne was a part of my life. She certainly is a great model for all of us,” said Sister Pat.
Sister Pat has been serving as a Chaplain with St. Francis Healthcare System in Hawaii since February 2006. She also served for two years as the Spiritual Services Manager from August 2010 to August 2012. As a Chaplain in the Spiritual Care department, she now devotes her time being present for hospice patients and their families. She noted that her life experiences have given her a unique ability to empathize with others. And while hospice ministry can be very daunting, ‘Sister Mom’ shares her perspective:
“It is a hard task. You need time for prayer and time to get away. So, there were times that I would stop and take a breather and come back. You’re meeting death all the time. So, you have to have a good prayer life, and you have to be able to have a time out. God has provided that. I’m very fortunate that I’m here being able to do the ministry that I do.”
When asked to share advice for others, Sister Patricia looks back at the model we have in Saint Marianne.
“We have a great legacy with Saint Marianne. Part of it is that she was in relationship with others. She always tried to help others. If we can love one another and care for one another, we will be in a far better place.”