Sister Patricia Jean died Sept. 12 at the Loretto Motherhouse. She was 94 and in the 73rd year of her life as a Sister of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. "PJ", as she was known to family and friends, was born in St. Louis Feb. 15, 1925, and educated by the Sisters of Loretto. She entered the Sisters of Loretto in 1946 and later that same year, on Dec. 8th, was received into the congregation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in philosophy and sociology, in 1952 from Webster College (now University) in St. Louis. Sister Patricia Jean earned a master’s in English in 1960 from Marquette University in Milwaukee and her doctorate in higher education in 1967 from Denver University. PJ also studied at the Jung Institute, Kusnacht, Switzerland, in 1979.
Sister Patricia Jean served as the ninth President of Loretto Heights College (LHC) from 1967 to 1972. During those years, she restructured the governance of the college and her own Advisory Board to include faculty and students. Sister Patricia Jean taught at LHC from 1961 to 1967. She had spent 1965-1966 at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, working with Antioch’s president Jim Dixon and Sam Baskin, organizer of the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities. There she studied the concept of University Without Walls, which became the landmark educational experience at LHC during her presidency.
In the Denver Archdiocese, in addition to her service at LHC, Sister Patricia Jean taught at Blessed Sacrament School in Denver from 1951 to 1953, was a member of the faculty at Union Graduate School in Denver from 1978 to 1979 and a counselor and faculty member at Denver Free University from 1980 to 1981. Elsewhere, she taught in schools in California, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio and Texas.
A longtime writer, Sister Patricia Jean focused on Loretto Mother Praxedes Carty for her first book, “Only One Heart,” published in 1962. She also wrote ”Beyond the Adobe Wall, the Sisters of Loretto in New Mexico 1852-1894” and “Venture into the Unknown, Loretto in China 1923-1998“ and initiated “Naming Our Truth: Stories of Loretto Women,” and “A Century of Change 1912-2012, Loretto’s Second Century,” a compilation of essays chronicling Loretto’s history and mission that was published for Loretto’s 200th anniversary on April 25, 2012.
Throughout her years of ministry, PJ always found the energy, time and passion to work for world peace. In 1983, with Loretto Sister Anna Koop, Sister Patricia Jean represented the Loretto Disarmament/Economic Conversion Committee on a two-week experience in Germany and Holland. While the United States was pressuring Germany to accept Pershing II missiles, PJ and Anna addressed a crowd of more than 8,000, saying, “I apologize for the fact that my government, which should represent humanitarian concerns, invests billions in destructive weapons instead of fostering understanding between American and Soviet people.”
In her later years, PJ was a Jungian counselor in private practice in Louisville, Ky., and Santa Fe, N.M. She moved to Loretto Motherhouse in 2008, serving as author-in-residence until her death.
A funeral Mass for Sister Patricia Jean was celebrated Sept. 16 in the Church of the Seven Dolors on the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. She was buried in the Loretto Motherhouse Nature Preserve Cemetery. Memorials in Sister Patricia Jean’s name may be sent to the Loretto Community, care of Loretto Development Office, at Loretto Motherhouse, 515 Nerinx Road, Nerinx, KY 40049.