I was born in Belleek Co. Fermanagh, to Mary and Patrick McManus. I began my Mercy journey when I went to Mount Lourdes Secondary school, Enniskillen and was taught by many wonderful Mercy Sisters. I was attracted to their lifestyle and during an Easter school trip to Lourdes, France in 1954, 1 knew I wanted to dedicate my life to serving God's people.
I entered the Convent of Mercy, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on September 24, 1954. On August 12, 1960 I made Final Vows. During my 3 years of Temporary Vows I attended college in Leeds, England and graduated with a degree in Home Economics. A new Girl's Intermediate School opened in Enniskillen in September 1960 where I taught for eight wonderful years and enjoyed being part of a new education system.
I was assigned to Hialeah, Florida in August, 1968. Leaving my family, community and school friends was a traumatic experience. I was one of four sisters from the Clogher Diocese to arrive at Immaculate Conception, Hialeah on August 15, 1968. We were then a community of 16. Hialeah was changing with the constant arrival of Cuban exiles. There were 1,700 students in the school and I was introduced to my 2nd Graders the first week of September. Thus began the many transitions: methods of teaching, community living, involvement in parish life and attending College courses in the summer. Vatican 2 brought new life to church and community. It was an exciting time to be a religious.
The call of Mercy led me from classroom teaching to Director of Religious Education in our Bilingual program of about 1,000 students. In 1993 I moved to our regional house in Deerfield Beach and continued as D.R.E. at a newly formed St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish with 1,600 students in the program. While it was an awesome, affirming experience, I knew I could not keep up the pace and schedule. I accepted a position at St. Maurice parish in Pastoral Ministry in August 1999.
At St. Maurice for the last 9 years, I have been involved in many areas of parish life especially in senior ministry. Our Thursday afternoon weekly gatherings include prayer, hospitality, activities and service. I coordinate Eucharistic ministers to our Homebound, visit our parishioners in Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes and hospitals. I facilitate a weekly Bereavement Support Group.
Our parish mission has always been to feed the hungry. Our Hunger program has a separate parish fund with board members responsible for decisions, fund raising and project contact leaders. We support 21 missions in various parts of U.S. and worldwide.
This past year I became a member of our newly formed Broward County interfaith group, a coalition of 26 religious congregations with the goal to press a response from Broward County Civic leaders to make changes for the poor. What a growth experience to share with leaders of so many denominations and to be part of 1,500 persons at our Nehemiah gathering in February, 2008.
I had the privilege of attending the Congregational conference in Dromantine. I was renewed in every aspect of our Mercy call to be a compassionate presence. I was inspired to continue to educate myself and others in understanding the spirituality of the new cosmology. I am presently attending an 8 week seminar at our parish "Care of the Earth, A matter of Justice" and will keep involved in further programs.
I have been enriched by the many opportunities Mercy life has given me. I have valued the support of community, family, parishioners, and friends over the years. My present ministries continue to help me live my Mercy Mission. In 2007 I celebrated my Golden Jubilee and I am grateful for the privilege of spending 40 years of my religious life in the Archdiocese of Miami.
Pat McManus rsm