In Memory

Sister Patricia O’Brien, IHM

July 5, 1929 – October 14, 2020

Patricia O'Brien, IHM

Sister Patricia O’Brien, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Nivard) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on July 5, 1929, in Baltimore, MD, and given the name Frances Patricia. She was the daughter of the late Francis Patrick and Ellen Anita Bohn O’Brien. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1947, and made her temporary profession of vows on May 8, 1950, and her final profession of vows on August 2, 1953.

Sister Patricia served as a teacher at the following schools: Mt. Holly Regional Catholic School in Mt. Holly, NJ, from 1950 to 1953; Holy Trinity Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, NY, from 1953 to 1959; St. Paul High School in Scranton, PA, from 1959 to 1960; Marywood Seminary High School in Scranton, PA, from 1960 to 1962; Cathedral High School in Scranton, PA, from 1962 to 1967; Archbishop Neale High School in La Plata, MD, from 1967 to 1970; and St. Agnes Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, from 1970 to 1973.

Sister served as principal at Archbishop Neale High School in La Plata, MD, from 1975 to 1976.

She also served as a social worker from 1973 to 1975, and the social work coordinator from 1976 to 2000, at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Baltimore, MD.

From 2000 until the time of her death, Sister Patricia was a prayer minister at St. Rita Convent in Baltimore, MD; the Marian Convent in Scranton; and at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/social studies, and a Master of Science degree in counselor education from Marywood College, and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland.

She is preceded in death by a sister, Angela Murphy.

She is survived by nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews; and by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.


Combined Vespers Prayer Service:

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Fall 2020 issue

Sister Patricia O’Brien, IHM

Reflection given by Sister Nancy DeCesare, Councilor, at Sister’s funeral on Monday, October 19, 2020:

The Holy Face
His Face is everywhere: in the smile of an infant;
the mischievous eyes of a teasing child;
the loving look of a mother for her baby…
the painful glance of one who is suffering…
the calm look of a peace-filled soul;
and the gleam in one’s countenance
who has found God.
Look at everyone around you carefully
and at each one
and Jesus will look back at you!
Patricia O’Brien, IHM
February 25, 2011

These words were taken from one of the many poems written by Pat which can be found on our IHM website. She had great devotion to her contemplation of the different ways artists portrayed the face of Jesus. As her poem beautifully conveys, her prayer led her to see God’s face in the faces of people she encountered. Her poetry enabled her to express the depth of her prayer and her love for God in ways that, she would acknowledge, her words often failed to do. Throughout her life, Pat was laser-focused on her dedication to those in our society who needed help coping with the challenges they faced. With that mission as her focus, Pat could at times appear demanding, but her clients and those who came to know her saw that underneath was a compassionate, generous core that showed itself in so many acts of thoughtfulness and kindness throughout their lives.

A woman of many talents and interests, Pat taught for over twenty-three years in schools in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and also served briefly as a high school principal. She believed strongly in education as the road to opportunity for her students and just as importantly, as the means by which they could learn to make a difference in the lives of others. In each of these missions, Pat left a tradition of excellence, caring, and generous commitment. She urged students and faculty to give their best, to be their best selves, so that others would benefit from their gifts and service.

From her school experience, Pat learned firsthand of the many challenges facing parents and children due to social issues such as poverty, unemployment, and domestic violence. She determined to do something about that and so became a social worker. For over twenty-seven years,
she served at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Baltimore where she also became the social work coordinator. Her efforts on behalf of her clients
and staff earned her accolades from her peers as well as clients year after year. She received honors and recognition by many local and state
organizations for her tireless work. But for Pat, the most rewarding experiences of her ministry were the individual lives she touched and helped
in some way to become their better selves.

When Pat’s life journey brought her to the Marian Convent and then here to OLP, she delved into her poetry and enjoyed her interactions with the sisters with whom she lived, especially through her dry sense of humor. She enjoyed crocheting, and made baby blankets for staff members’ newborns. She also donated them to the St. Joseph’s Festival every year. She was always ready to offer prayers for staff and sisters and their families whenever a need was expressed. She loved hearing from her relatives and shared their stories when she did. A person of integrity, Pat lived and spoke her truth always.

This was Pat’s 70th jubilee year and throughout these months of COVID restrictions, she continued to hope and pray that she could enjoy a jubilee celebration with her family and friends. That desire for a jubilee was satisfied beyond her dreams last Wednesday when she met her God face to face. We pray very specially today in memory of Pat’s parents, Ellen Anita and Francis, and her sister, Angela, who have gone before her and who joined in that reunion jubilee with Pat in heaven last week.

We pray for those people whose lives were touched by Pat’s dedication and care, especially her niece, Diane, and nephew, Paul, and their families. We pray also for the sisters, staff, and administrators here at Our Lady of Peace Residence, especially those in Household 2A, her Band members and all her IHM sisters, and all who knew and accompanied Pat on her life’s journey.

One of the lines of poetry written by Pat, entitled, Hope, reads: Hope is the seed of overflowing love uplifting the soul even to the joy of carrying one’s cross (2/23/11). I think we can say with certainty that Pat’s gift of self through her ministry to those most in need was a witness to that hope for all those she served. We give gratitude today to God for the gift of Pat’s life and celebrate the beginning of her eternal life in heaven. I now ask Diane to place the scriptures on Pat’s casket, for she heard the Word of God; indeed, she staked her life upon it, and received life to the full… the Word now beckons Pat home.

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