Sr. Pat Graham had been ill for many years but, as her friends and family knew well, had never let it stop her living life to the full. In between spells in hospital, she took a full part in parish life at St. Leo the Great Parish, was part of many groups, as well as knitting , crocheting, painting and being involved in music and the Justice & Peace Group, among other things. And so we persuaded ourselves that everything was under control. It was therefore a shock to everyone when she was taken into hospital urgently on Monday 14 March, and just a week later, we were gathering at the church for her funeral vigil, following her death on St. Patrick’s Day.
The church was crowded for her funeral Mass on 22March, with many of her Congregation from around the UK, former teaching colleagues and neighbours, her friends from the St.Mungo Singers, and so many more, joining her family and the St. Leo’s community – a turnout showing the affection and esteem in which she was held. The Mass was concelebrated by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, with Canon Peter McBride, Fr. Brian Donnelly, Fr. Jim Lawlor, Fr. Willie Slavin, Fr. Hugh O’Donnell and Fr. Brendan Murtagh.
Sr. Pat had loved and supported the music of the Liturgy and so it was fitting that the Mass was filled with the music she herself had sung so often. In his homily, Mgr Gerry reflected that he had started the morning downhearted at yet more tragic news on the TV – it was the day of the Brussels terror attacks – but our faith is that God is in charge, no matter what. God is still God and there is still goodness and justice and mercy in the world, as we had seen so clearly in Sr. Pat’s life.
Sr. Maureen Coyle, her friend throughout her days as a Notre Dame sister, spoke movingly about her:-
“Saint Patrick’s Day this year 2016, was a different celebration. As the day progressed, Pat was encircled by love and enwrapped in Light which led her to meet her God…………….. Pat was indeed a multi- talented skilled strong woman who had many, many interests and a great thirst for life. Even during her long illness, she never stopped living life to the full and keeping herself interested in all.
She was an avid reader of all kinds of books and poetry. She was a lover of the works of Teilhard de Chardin SJ and belonged to the Teilhard Society. With a keen interest in history, especially Scottish History , she possessed a fund of knowledge about the Celtic Saints and also of places connected with our Celtic Heritage. She was greatly interested in the Scottish Islands and had done a lot of ‘Island Hopping’ .
Pat was a most creative crafts woman …..with her crotchet hook, knitting needles, sewing machine, paint brush and palette , baking bread, and latterly surfing the net. Her appreciation of Art led her into the world of stained glass, especially that of Harry Clarke . She loved the paintings of The Glasgow Boys and The Glasgow Girls. Her enthusiasm inspired others to engage.
She was an extremely resourceful person and her great spirit of independence enabled her to thrive heroically . Pat had a keen , sharp intellect and a wide knowledge of many subjects and places of historic significance . In the 1970’s , the early years of The Open University, she was a strong supporter, herself taking a Diploma in Reading Development .
A gifted Educator, enabling and empowering others to develop their intellect and talents was her main ministry as a Sister of Notre Dame. Her interest was in the young child from Nursery through to Primary Education . Having been educated at Notre Dame High School and College of Education , Glasgow she developed a great love for Education for Life and Education for Justice. Her teaching in Liverpool, the Renton and the City of Glasgow spanned over forty years. She took great interest in all pupils and led them on the path of God’s goodness. She had responsibility posts in St Thomas Riddrie and at St Ninian’s Knightswood where later she became the Head Teacher until her retirement .
Pat boasted of being born in a Posh Hotel….The Peebles Hydro…..it was a maternity unit for Glasgow just after World War Two. She was the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy, born to Jenny nee Hislop and Patrick Graham, and given the name at her Baptism of Patricia Anne. She grew up in a loving family home , knowing the great values of loving, sharing, and caring. The Congregation of Notre Dame of which Pat became a member fifty years ago , is most grateful to and thank the family for their love and care of her during difficult times of illness.
Pat had a strong Faith which carried her through her illness. Uncomplaining , she would say she found a new apostolate in hospital life where she had a great rapport with nurses, carers
and doctors. It was with great joy to all that she was able to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in Notre Dame, last year 2015. Her life in Notre Dame saw her committed to spreading the Good News wherever she lived, whether it was in Drumchapel, Bearsden, Penilee or latterly in Dumbreck where she was so much part of and involved with a wonderful community of caring neighbours who showed her great love and kindness.
Pat was very much part of this Parish Community of Saint Leo the Great. She became immersed in Parish Life and belonged to many groups such as the Prayer Group, the Walking Group , the Bird Watchers, the Book Group and of course the Choirs. The Sisters of Notre Dame are grateful to all Parishioners and to Fr Gerry for his outstanding support and ministering to her, especially during her years of ill health.
Pat was a key contributor to the work of Pastoral Planning in the Archdiocese of Glasgow at diocesan and parish level for many years. She was also much loved and well known in the field of Catholic Education in the West of Scotland. We ask the Good God , in whose Presence Pat abides , to bless all of us with deep peace, love and joy. We say Eternal Light Shine upon Her. May she Rest in Peace…Amen.”
When the Mass ended with the confident joy of Budry’s “Thine be the Glory”, the parish community offered hospitality in the Parish House to those in the congregation who were not able to attend the final committal, while the hearse, accompanied by a large number of cars, took Sr. Pat to her final resting place in the cemetery at Dumbarton where many of her Congregation are buried. There we sang once again the Salve Regina before taking our leave of her and going on to the Carmelite monastery in Dumbarton for a meal and a chance to talk.
RIP Sr. Pat, you will be sadly missed by so many but not forgotten.