Sister Patricia Conroy

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Sister Pat (Patricia) was born in New York City and entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1950.  She graduated with a BSN from St. Xavier University in 1956 and that same year was assigned to Korea and language study.  Landing in the war devastated port city of Pusan, she saw the stark reality of poverty, illness and death that followed the termination of the Korean War.  Her clinic patients were thousands of refugees in that city in need of medical care.  By 1963 she was asked to begin a School of Nursing in the Maryknoll Hospital that replaced the clinic.  As directress, Sister Pat mentored young Koreans in this needed profession.

From 1968 – 1970, she earned a Doctorate in Nursing Education from Columbia Teachers College, NYC.  Then happily returned to Seoul and was asked to be Education Director of the Korean Nursing Association.  She taught the Masters students in the five collegiate nursing programs in Korea.  This was an opportunity to seed new ideas about curriculum revision.  She says, “nursing was undergoing a revolutionary change, and it was energizing to be on the ground floor.” In 1972, she further influenced the changes by returning to Pusan and getting the Maryknoll School of Nursing classified as Maryknoll Junior College of Nursing with a community health based curriculum that could serve the distant rural areas.  On January 1st, 1978, the Maryknoll Sisters turned this College of Nursing over to an all-Korean staff for the Pusan Diocese.

Sister Pat served as the Maryknoll Sisters Formation Director at Maryknoll, NY from 1980 – 1985 and earned an M.A. in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, Omaha, NE in the summers.

In 1986, Sister Pat returned to Korea and focused on the needs in Korea for pastoral workers in remote islands off the southwest coast.  For fourteen years Sister Pat and other Sisters served the people on three islands, moving from one island to another, helping the folks to put down roots in the faith and building basic Christian communities.  Their work was fruitful and very satisfying.

In 1998, Sister Pat received the St. Xavier University, Chicago, Distinguished Nurse Alumni Award.  As the founding Director of the Pusan Maryknoll College of Nursing, she had twelve of her Korean graduates present in Chicago to celebrate with her.

Then in the year 2000, the new millennium, Sister Pat responded to a call to the country of Nepal.  She worked with a team of missioners from many countries and different Christian denominations, sponsored by the United Mission of Nepal and says, “this is my first experience as the only Catholic Sister witnessing together with such dedicated couples and families.”  She was vice principal of a new nursing school in Tansen which was striving to improve the health of the Nepali people living in the remote areas of Western Nepal where health services are scarce.  She worked closely with a Nepali principal, training and supervising students, while developing the curriculum.  When she arrived, she learned that the maternal and infant mortality rates were among the highest in the world.  Other challenges were AIDS, tropical diseases, snake bites and severe malnutrition, so she developed a curriculum that would prepare the students to respond to actual health care needs.  Most of the nursing students were Hindu, and the focus was on communicating values of compassion, respect and equality in the nursing care.  This was particularly important in a culture still bound by the restrictions of caste and education.  She found it rewarding to see her Hindu students responding to the needs of the patients with loving concern, regardless of caste or tribal origin.

Once again, Sister Pat experienced the ravages of war when on January 31st, 2006 there was a massive attack on Tansen.  The school compound was surrounded by shooting and bombing, but no damage was done.  By February 8th, she was able to communicate that she and all her co-workers and students were safe.  By April 18th, the King finally returned power to the Parliament.

This distinguished nurse reflects that she could not imagine teaching her students to aim for anything but excellence.  This was what she learned at St. Xavier’s.

Sister Pat retired to the United States in November 2008 and was assigned to Monrovia, CA.  In 2018 Sister Pat returned to Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY where she currently resides.