Sister Patricia McNamee, SNDdeN (formerly Catherine James)

Sister Patricia McNamee, SNDdeN (formerly Catherine James)

 May 9, 1930 - December 11, 2014


Florence Patricia McNamee described her father’s family as Irish immigrants escaping the Potato Famine and her mother’s family as farmers and coal miners, who took root in the land of Southwestern Ohio. Born in the small farming community of Buchtel, this oldest child and only daughter of James and Florence McNamee was a vivacious little girl nicknamed “Peaches” by her family. She met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when she started the second grade at Saint John’s in Logan, Ohio. There she also learned the story of Saint Julie Billiart, foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Perhaps it was a resonance with Saint Julie’s vivaciousness and joy, as well as Pat’s own desire to grow closer to God that led her to Maryhurst, the Candidacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Columbus, Ohio. Pat lived there during the school year for four years while attending high school at St. Joseph’s Academy. Her last two summers during high school found her working at the Main Office of the C&O Railroad in Logan replacing ticket agents, freight agents and freight checkers as they took their annual vacations.

In addition to her academic work, Pat studied piano for 12 years and entertained the thought of going on to become a concert pianist. However, Pat’s years at Maryhurst had deepened her desire to serve others; and she decided she could best do that as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She entered the community on February 2, 1949, and received the name Sister Catherine James.

Central in Pat’s life was her belief in each individual as a beloved child of God, uniquely gifted. She lived this belief in community, which she saw as a place to come to know one’s self more deeply through interaction with others. She described the dynamic as a willingness to accept each other as unique persons, kindly and sincerely being open to a sister’s revelation of self that in turn deepened her own desire to improve herself and share herself with others. She lived this belief through ministry saying, “Teaching, to me, is showing respect for the dignity of the individual…. Each child is a person and my thrill comes in discerning actual as well as potential gifts in a child, using patience, understanding, sincere love and interest to help them develop these gifts gradually.” Both community and the classroom were to be places of security, acceptance and love where each child of God could grow into their giftedness and share that giftedness with others. This core belief is part of what made her such an outstanding Montessori teacher.

While on staff at St.Richard of Chichester, Pat wrote, “I love teaching – I seem to have a gift for it –whether this is true of just lower grades or not, I don’t know. I believe I am where I am for God’s own reasons…I came to serve.” She spent her entire teaching career working in the primary grades where her excellence as a Montessori teacher took her into the public school system. Evaluations from those years speak of her “excellent rapport with each of her students”, “successful nurturing of positive self image in her students”, “effective utilization of classroom space to create areas conducive to work”, “ability to assess needs and then to program to meet them” and her “consistency in maintaining a professional attitude in all situations with the children, staff and parents.” Sisters who lived with her tell of her total dedication to her students and the hours she spent creating effective Montessori materials.

Pat named helping “to continue the development of character begun at home in these little ones” as one reason for her love of the primary grades. She took joy in her young students’ “joy in giving, in completing a task be it ever so small, in accepting each other as persons in their own uniqueness, and their satisfaction in achieving and progressing through one year’s curriculum and texts.” She also helped her students deal with situations that caused them hurt and pain. Pat completed the University of Cincinnati’s Peace Education that certified her to teach peer mediation and conflict management to children. She incorporated creative responses to conflict, peer mediation and cooperative discipline into student programs for grades K through 8. She became a trainer for other adults and taught peer mediation to students 9-12 years old. Her work with the Center for Peace Education in Cincinnati included five years of service on their Board. The Center acknowledged Pat for her work and commitment to Peace Education before she left Cincinnati to take on the challenge of helping to develop a Montessori School in Jackson, Tennessee.

Besides her love for music, Pat loved to write poetry and prose. She also liked to read. While caring for her mother she developed a love for good mysteries. Extroverted by nature, she turned that energy into developing articles she wrote for teacher publications, sharing her successful methods of helping children develop language skills. Pat was also devoted to her family. She took a leave for 10 years to care for her mother. She loved her younger brothers, who in turn, were devoted to her. As Pat’s last illness deprived her of her vivaciousness and ability to communicate, James, Charles and sister-in-law Nila regularly journeyed to Cincinnati to spend time with their “Peaches.” She lost the ability to communicate her appreciation and love, but all of us know how strongly it burned in her heart.

Saint Julie encouraged her daughters to “serve the good God well with much liberty of spirit.” Pat took those words to heart and lived them to the full for as long as her health allowed her. Now that her illness is over, her Sisters, family and friends celebrate with her as she sings the words of the psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. O Bless the Lord, my soul!” (Ps 103)

Bio Data
Born May 9, 1930 in Buchtel, Ohio
Parents: James McNamee (b. Buchtel, Ohio) and Florence Edgell (b. Blatchford, Ohio)
Siblings: James & Charles

Baptized May 25, 1930 at St. Patrick Church, Buchtel, Ohio
Educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at St. John Parish School, Logan, Ohio
and St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio

Entered Notre Dame February 2, 1949 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1951
Final Vows: August 13, 1956

Bachelor of Science in Education, St Mary of the Springs College, Columbus, Ohio 1965
Master of Education in Curriculum & Teaching Strategies, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio1972
Certification Montessori, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, 1986

Assignments Include:
1951-1952 St. Augustine School, Columbus, Ohio
1952-1960 St. Christopher School, Columbus, Ohio
8/1/1960-1/1/1961 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School, Reading, Ohio
1/1/1961-6/1/1961 Holy Cross School, Columbus, Ohio
1961-1963 St. Paul School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1963-1965 St. Richard of Chichester School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1965-1969 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1969-1971 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
8/1/1971-12/31/1971 Concord School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1972-1982 Care of Parent, Logan, Ohio
1982-1983 Notre Dame Reading Center, Columbus, Ohio
1983-1984 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1984-1995 Sands Montessori School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1995-1999 Parkview School, Jackson, Tennessee
1999-2001 Community Service, Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
2001-Present Ministry of Prayer, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died at Mount Notre Dame December 11, 2014

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
December 11, 2014