Thoughts About Our Pat Stacker
By Sr. Jeanette Braun
One of the blessings of accompanying Notre Dame Associates for the last 10 years is that I‘ve had the privilege to come to know and love these fine women who participate in the mission and spirituality of our Sisters. Each Associate brings her unique gifts and shares her faith journey with the community. Some time ago, Pat shared the following reflection that’s posted on our website “I recognize my invitation to association with the Sisters of Notre Dame as part of God’s plan for me. After my marriage of 25 years ended, I spent several years trying to get “reacquainted” with myself and learned to trust that God would allow to happen, what needs to happen in my life. Educated by the Sisters, I found that they again became my mentors and friends, nurturing and encouraging my spiritual development. I have discovered that a large part of who I am is rooted in the charism of St. Julie Billiart. I am grateful for the Sisters’ supportive presence and the opportunity to become involved in the mission of Notre Dame.”
And Pat was indeed involved! Her warmth, fun loving spirit and amazing energy had her engaged in many of efforts to support our Notre Dame Family both in this country as well as in Latin America and Africa. Two memories I have of Pat illustrate the love and the energy she put in supporting the poor in the most abandoned places/ and her deep faith in our good God.
During the darkest days in Zimbabwe, there was a terrible food scarcity. Our Zimbabwean Sisters and the people they served were in dire need. So in 2006, the Sisters and Associates in United States began shipping food to Zimbabwe. This was no small feat and demanded organization. Pat jumped in with sleeves rolled up and with her help/ we refined our process so that it ran like a well-oiled machine! Over the next few years, certain times were designated for each unit to provide supplies to Zimbabwe.
In the midst of one of these efforts, Pat mentioned that she’d like to pack some boxes at home and that she could have her family help. Sr. Carol Miller and I went down one evening to help Pat with her project. When we arrived, we walked into a cottage industry that was working in force! The living room, dining room, kitchen and hall/ had family members busy at work! Pat’s sisters, Ada, Claire, and Evelyn, her sister-in-law and nieces all had their appointed jobs. Some were measuring and filling bags sugar, beans and rice, Mama Isabel Costa the matriarch of the clan was seated in the kitchen, carefully putting labels on each filled bag. Various supplies were neatly stacked in each room. Our packing routine was like a choreographed ballet and when we finished sealing and labeling almost 100 boxes, we stacked them in the living room and blessed them. We prayed for those who would receive these gifts. I’ll always remember the tired and happy faces around the room and the pride on Isabel’s face when I praised Pat and her family’s amazing teamwork and the care they put into preparing in each package. Pat’s generosity, her compassion for others and her willingness to extend herself for those in need was obviously nurtured from a very early age by her loving family.
One Saturday each month, people interested in becoming Associates gather at our Province Center with SNDs and Associates to learn about our community and discern if ND Association is their calling. Pat and Arlene Fukawa were our first hospitality team for these Saturdays. They prepared morning coffee and lunch for the group. It was at one of these sessions, three and half years ago that Pat shared with us that she had been diagnosed with cancer. The topic of that particular morning was PRAYER and was led by Jean Condé. As part of the process we were given this slip of paper and invited to write 2 or 3 petitions that we would share with the group. At the end of the day these slips of paper were place in a circle face down on the coffee table where we were gathered and we were invited to take one home and pray for and with the person whose petitions were on the paper I drew Pat’s and kept it on my prayer table throughout these last 3 and half years and prayed for her daily. Her prayers were:
- Please accompany me in praying for the doctors who will be at my side these coming months.
- Please pray that I may deepen my prayer life so that I’ll be able to accept whatever God has planned for me.
There’s no doubt that Pat’s prayer life was deepened throughout her long illness and that she was given the grace to accept the good God’s plans for her. May Pat rest in peace.