Sr. Pat was born in Berkeley, California into a middle class family. The family moved to the Central Valley. She attended Catholic schools in elementary and high school. From time to time she thought about religious life but considered other paths open to her. Her life changed however, when shortly after graduation from High School, her father died. His passing provided the crucial impetus for her to join the Sisters of St. joseph of Carondelet. She received a BA in English and History and Master’s Degree in History and Political Science from Mount St. Mary’s College.
Her first years in ministry were teaching at the elementary level and as an administrator, as well as teaching at the high school level. Vatican II Council initiated by John XXIII made deep changes in the church and in religious life. The area Senate of Priests asked her to develop an educational opportunity for several parishes to learn about the reforms
These changes offered an opportunity to move into other areas of service in ministry. She studied for a years at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, TX where she met Gustavo Gutierrez, author o f Theology of Liberation, Jesus Garcia, and Enrique Dussel, historian. There followed training in community organizing by Fred Ross Sr., with the UFW working as a boycott organizer in South Central Los Angeles.
Pat played a critical role in guiding two non-profit groups in Los Angeles, both of which profoundly affected the lives of the Central Americans fleeing war in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Archbishop Romero Relief Fund gathered and shipped medical supplies to Nicaragua for the benefit of combatants and non-combatants alike. The deportation of refugees back to war zones resulted in many being killed upon arrival. This practice by the Reagan Administration was a gross violation of international law. Pat, with the assistance of Aris Anagnos and others, formed the Humanitarian Law Project to provide education to both law students and lawyers concerning the application of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols to prevent deportations. Many lives were saved.
Her commitment to Human Rights has reached out to the indigenous in Chiapas who were victims of a massacre in Acteal. She led a congressional delegation to Chiapas on an investigation and brought injured children to Washington, DC for medical care. It raised a mountain of publicity in both the U.S. and in Mexico.
Her interest in social justice is nurtured by membership in NETWORK, a Catholic sisters lobby, Pax Christi, and the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace as well as Catholics Against the Death Penalty.