Associates are women and men from various faith traditions, married and single, who extend the mission and share the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph without becoming vowed members. Associate Pat Hunt wrote the following tribute after the death of her dear friend and fellow member of the “Four Pats from Syracuse” Associate Pat Race on March 19.
Although I was saddened to learn of the death of my dear associate companion on the journey Pat Race, I found it heart-warming to learn that her passing occurred on the Feast of St. Joseph! What a fitting acknowledgment of her many faithful years with the Albany associate community, and particularly the community in Syracuse.
Pat has a first commitment story that’s hard to beat. In June of 2000, she was driving to the Dominican Retreat House for the first part of the annual Associate Commitment Weekend. Sharing the ride was another first commitment candidate Jane Dommett and associate Pat John. Almost there after a long trip through driving rain, the front passenger tire got caught in the mud on an unpaved shoulder. Pat Race tried to correct, but unfortunately, she couldn’t, and the car started twisting and turning until it came to rest upside-down at the bottom of a hill. Thank God that help arrived in minutes, and all three were taken to the hospital. Pat John was able to join the rest of the associates later that night, but Jane and Pat Race went back home when they were released. Thankfully, they recovered in time to make their first commitment at the first Syracuse associate meeting the following September.
You could tell by the twinkle in her eye that Pat always enjoyed the interaction in our group, especially the annual special occasions: Syracuse Mission Day, our Epiphany parties, our annual Winter Retreat at Alverna Heights, St. Joseph’s Day, our Commitment Weekend in Latham, and our annual June Picnic.
Unfortunately, Pat began experiencing a slow but steady downward curve in both physical and mental health a few years ago. In those early years of symptoms, the Syracuse associates met several times in her home parish of St. James in Cazenovia, where she would join us with her forever Irish charm. Although she wouldn’t have been able to join us last June, even if it we had been able to celebrate in Latham, it would have been her 20th commitment.
Pat John remembers fondly that Pat Race and Sister Joan Killoran would get together with Sister Carolyn Chmielewski and herself for lunch and cards on occasion, especially at the cottage on Tuscarora Lake. “It would be teams—the sisters versus the associates—and our favorite game was nine-card pitch. I can’t remember who won, but I do remember laughing a lot and a good time had by all.”
Our newest Syracuse associate, LuAnn Sims, regrets that she only got to interact with Pat a few times. Despite the few encounters, she says: “What I remember is that she was a lovely woman who had a kind soul and a loving heart.”
Associate Monica James has many wonderful memories of Pat’s influence on her not only becoming an associate but also a Catholic! Monica remembers many deep faith conversations through the RCIA process, which Monica says she found encouraging and full of wisdom. “Pat is the best…she will surely be missed.”
Pat Pilon laments the fact that the famous “Four Pats from Syracuse” are now down to three. We always kidded at associate gatherings about that. It seems like we were always in pretty close vicinity to each other at gatherings. We told them that if they needed a certain Pat, they were either close by or we probably knew where the Pat that they were looking for could be found. Outside the church after Pat’s funeral Mass, Monica brought a friend up to introduce her to us. As usual, we said that Pat Race was one of the four—and we realized that once again, the three of us were standing next to each other! We will miss our D’Artagnan.
Finally, as well as Pat’s passing from this life to Eternity on the Feast of St. Joseph, I am equally heartened by her funeral being held on the Feast of the Annunciation. Having completed her earthly efforts on God’s behalf, Pat followed Mary’s example and willingly surrendered to God’s last call: “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).