God is supremely good and by God’s providence, Marie and Patrick Fallon, parents of Sister Mary Patricia, settled in Chicago arriving from Roscommon County, Ireland in 1914. They became the proud parents of twelve children who they raised in their happy, Irish home. Sister Mary Patricia was number nine, born on November 30th, 1926. Her baptismal name was Catherine but her two-year-old brother, Eddie, was so awed by his lovable, baby sister that he claimed her as his own Dolly. That name took root and even now after five generations of nieces and nephews, and there are as many as there are stars in the sky, they still call Sister Mary Patricia: Aunt Dolly.
Sister Mary Patricia grew up at 3940 Polk Street, a half a block from Presentation Church and School in Chicago. The Fallons had a personal relationship with the Priests in the parish and the Sisters of Charity, the BVM’s, who taught in the school. Sister Mary Patricia was so inspired by the Sisters that even before first grade she wanted to be a BVM just like the Sisters she knew. Her Godmother and cousin, Sister Brigetta Burns happened to be an Omaha, Nebraska Servite Sister whom she also admired.
It was natural for Sister Mary Patricia to continue her education with the BVM’s at Cathedral High School in Chicago. However, in her second year she came down with Diphtheria. After she was well enough to return to school, she would become ill riding on the El train or bus. Some of the neighborhood girls were attending Our Lady of Lourdes Commercial High School at 15th and Keeler, which was walking distance from their home and persuaded her to transfer to Our Lady of Lourdes, taught by the Benedictine Sisters from Lisle. When she was a senior, the Sisters brought the girls to Sacred Heart Monastery to see what the Sisters do. Sister Mary Patricia was so uplifted when she heard the Sisters chanting the Divine Office that she knew her love for singing would be fulfilled if she joined the Benedictines. With the blessing of her family and the BVM Sisters, she was accepted as a Benedictine Postulant on September 8, 1944, the feast of the Nativity of Mary. There was, however, one huge concern. She was an Irish Lassie among a closed Czech group who had never before accepted a candidate outside of an Eastern European background, and, furthermore, the Czech language was still a spoken language even during table reading and evening prayer. How would she survive?
Well, Mother Genevieve was well aware of the possible difficulty Sister Mary Patricia would have and asked her how the community could help her fit in. Sister Mary Patricia was not dismayed by her different background and asked if she could study Czech because then she would know what was going on. Surprisingly, Czech classes proved to be a marvelous experience for her as she was soon able to pronounce almost all the words as well as the Czech Sisters and participate in the community entertainments the young Sisters would provide. At this point, who would have guessed she was Irish? But--- Irish she was and very proud of the fun-loving spirit of her Emerald Isle legacy.
Along with the other teaching Sisters in the Benedictine Community, Sister Mary Patricia became a teacher and she loved it and the students loved her as well. As the years went by, she taught every grade from 1st to 8th grade depending on what parochial school she was assigned to and she even taught English in High School. Later, she became principal at St. Vitus in Chicago, St. James in Glen Ellyn, secretary at St. Joan of Arc School in Lisle and the Community Council secretary here at the Monastery.
At every turn, Sister Mary Patricia was known as an engaging story teller, using her Irish DNA of wit and wisdom. Sister Joan Marie once jokingly said that Sister Mary Patricia would be comfortable in talking even with an elephant; so versatile was she in carrying on a conversation with whomever. Learning new things and keeping up with the trends of the times was also her gift. When the computer became the in-thing, she mastered it with the help of students or teachers and became a savvy computer user able to teach others. In her final years, she continued to be an active learner though legally blind. She listened to TV programs or to tapes for the blind. Socially and spiritually, she touched the lives of many members of her family and friends by showing concern for them through her telephone ministry; consoling those who needed to be consoled and grateful for the interest they showed in her declining health. Being gifted with a people-loving personality and a youthful heart she never grew old barring her poor health.
In her autobiography, she thanked the Sisters for enabling her to become who God wanted her to be and quoted the words of a song she felt applied to her, titled: THROUGH THE YEARS. “Through the years you’ve never let me down, you’ve turned my life around. The grandest days I’ve found, I’ve spent with you… Whenever things went wrong, together we were strong. I always knew--- I belonged right here, close to you--- THROUGH THE YEARS!”
Now as you leave us, we bless you, dear Sister Mary Patricia! May the angels carry your soul to the God who is waiting for you with outstretched arms to embrace you! May the sound of happy music and the lilt of Irish laughter fill your soul with surprise as your family gathers to greet you! May your joy and dancing never end! May you remember us here in the valley and sing out God’s praises with us every day--- till we meet again.
Sister Mary Patricia Fallon, OSB comes from a large Irish family. Her parents came over from Ireland in the early 1900’s. Sister’s childhood years were greatly influenced by her family’s friendship and respect for the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She recalls: ,“I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to be a religious when I grew up”.
A transfer to Our Lady of Lourdes high school in Chicago introduced Sister Patricia to the Benedictines. She struggled with the decision of which religious community to join, but after a visit to Lisle, she entered at the age of seventeen. She was anxious to learn the Czech language as that was the predominant cultural background at Sacred Heart Monastery and was spoken by the Sisters in community. Sister Patricia embraced this challenge and the rest of the community enjoyed participating in her education. Ultimately, the Czech language was dropped and the community moved to communicating in English.
Sister Patricia is a lifelong educator. She taught elementary grades in Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas and then moved to secondary education at Sacred Heart Academy. She ultimately took on the role of principal as several Chicago schools. Now, in her ‘semi-retirement’ years, Sister Patricia serves as Administrative Assistant to the principal at St. Joan of Arc in Lisle.
Sister Patricia has served on a variety of local boards and enjoys her work with the Lisle Heritage Society. At the monastery, she serves as Secretary of the Monastic Council. Her hobbies include walking and reading. She loves the Old and New Testament and is a fan of authors Henri Nouwen, Fulton J. Sheen, Belva Plain and Rosamunde Pilcher.
Sister Patricia looks forward to the day that she can move back into a permanent room in the renovated monastery and participate daily in community life. As one of twelve siblings, Sister Patricia is enormously proud of her large and loving family: 32 nieces and nephews, 79 great and 13 great-grand nieces and nephews.