Sister Patricia Kinser SNDdeN
August 12, 1925 – December 9, 2018
"Our spirituality is apostolic in the tradition of St. Julie, whose unique experience of prayer and action enabled her to find God's presence everywhere, and in a special way among the poor.” Constitution, Article 44
The second of three children, Patricia Ann Kinser grew up as the daughter of working class parents in St. Anthony Parish, Dayton, Ohio. She first came to know the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when her sister, Pauline, started high school at Julienne. Pat followed her to Julienne a year later. Pauline entered the Sisters of Notre Dame after she graduated from high school. Years later Pat would recall driving with her parents from Dayton to Reading and up the hill to Mt. Notre Dame for a monthly visit with Pauline. Pat liked what she saw on those visits and developed a deep respect for the Sisters. In July of 1943, she did not return to Dayton with her parents. She stayed as a Postulant with the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Pat took the name Sister Helen Patricia, and her first assignment was teaching first grade at Saints Peter and Paul in Reading. It was her second year of teaching that she looked back to as shaping her whole approach to ministry. She was transferred to the Summit Community. Every morning, the principals and staffs of five parish schools would board a bus and be driven to their respective schools in downtown Cincinnati. Pat was assigned to St. Paul Parish School, located in a tough neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown Cincinnati. She never forgot her experience the first morning. As the principal unlocked the door of the school she turned to Pat and said, “Every time I unlock this door I think of Jesus at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes when he said, ‘My heart goes out to these people.’” Those words took root in Pat’s heart, and she would later recall the story and say, “That is why I entered religious life. I am reaching out to the materially poor and feeling blessed to be working with them. I wouldn’t change my life for anything!” Her sister would later leave the community and marry, but Pat was no longer following in her sister’s footsteps.
Pat would teach every grade from first through eighth in schools around the Ohio province before taking on the responsibility of serving as principal. She returned to St. Paul’s where her enthusiasm and organizational skills were put to good use in the roles of principal and 7th and 8th grade teacher. One of her St. Paul students would go on to become superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools. He would recall the greatest and most long lasting lesson Pat taught her students was to have high expectations. “She told us that we could be anything we wanted to be if we worked hard enough and did the right thing. And she showed us how. She gave us a guidance lesson every day about how to live.” Both in Cincinnati and in Hamilton she worked with other Sister-principals to merge schools in poorer areas. Her efforts helped provide the opportunity for quality Catholic education to students who most needed it.
Besides her work in formal education, Pat also taught religious education classes to children not attending Catholic schools and worked with adults in Scripture and baptismal preparation classes. In 1975, she was one of the first participants in the Active Spirituality for the Global Community program at Mt. St. Joseph College. With the other participants Pat lived at the Anna Louisa Inn in downtown Cincinnati, an experience she would remember fondly for the rest of her life.
The following year she was missioned to the Summit Country Day School as secretary to the head of the Boys’ School. Her gentleness and her own experience made Pat an invaluable right-hand for the head of school. In the evenings and on the weekends, Pat volunteered at the West End Center, the Woman’s Alliance, the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Office, and with the Ohio Province Peace and Justice Committee and other inner-city ministries. Often she would serve as secretary at meetings, providing professionally done minutes of the meetings essential to the running of non-profit service groups. Each of these volunteer experiences gave her the opportunity to continue to carry out her preferential option for the poor.
In 1982 she took a leave of absence from the Summit and spent the year in Dayton caring for her mother. Pat was very grateful to the community for supporting her as she cared for her mother during her mother’s last months. After her mother’s death, Pat returned to the Summit. In 1989, the Province decided to make space at Mt. Notre Dame’s Pius Hall available to outside groups for meetings. Someone was needed to organize the calendar, welcome the groups, and oversee the program. Pat took on the challenge. In 1991 she joined the Alliance for Educational Development, the literacy program established in 1990 by the Ohio Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Through that program Pat tutored adults at the West End Center, Mt. Notre Dame, Bailey Hall and at the Duro Bag Company, Rookwood, KY. Through the program Pat worked with adults, helping some learn to read or to do basic math and others to prepare for their high school equivalency exam. She was glad to be helping individuals she felt had been “cheated out of an education.” Like Saint Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Pat taught her students what they needed to know for life and changed lives one person at a time.
In 1996 Pat started volunteering on Saturdays at the Cincinnati Nature Center. She would serve there for 18 years in a ministry of hospitality and general helpfulness as part of an educational program for children and adults which brought people in contact with the sacredness of creation. Pat found great enjoyment in this ministry because of the sense of community and appreciation among both co-workers and the people who came to the center. She also volunteered for shorter periods at both Rowe Woods and Gorman Heritage Farm.
Nature, for Pat, was a window into God. It was where she found God’s presence most real and vibrant. Pat loved going to Maggie Valley for her annual retreat, and for her 50th jubilee she spent a month in the Smokey Mountains soaking up God’s presence and the beauty of creation. Pat enjoyed walking around Mt. Notre Dame and praying on the porch in Julie Hall. When she moved to the Health Center, she was delighted that her room looked out on the enclosed garden area. Pat loved to garden and lent her green thumb to caring for plants in communities where she lived. Pat’s favorite season was spring. She looked forward to the experience of new life bursting forth around her. Perhaps it was her experience of God in nature that drew Pat to the Celtic Spirituality that nourished her prayer in later years. The writings of Thomas Merton were another source of nourishment for her and his books were often in her hand for spiritual reading.
In community Pat shared her gifts with her Sisters. Her years at the Summit found her chauffeuring non-driving Sisters. Pat liked to cook and that included making applesauce from apples picked up at a farmer’s market. She loved to shop and had a knack for finding good clothing at thrift shops as well as great sales at retail shops. Pat often volunteered to plan and lead community prayer. She took advantage of senior adult learning programs. Since Pat was a great conversationalist, she shared what she learned at table. A founding member of the Julie Community, Pat kept a pictorial archive of its first years. She appreciated good music and good entertainment. Pat enjoyed card games; and while she was a skilled player, it was the chance to interact with her Sisters that was the real drawing point. Pat looked for the good in each of her Sisters and lifted up that goodness to others.
She appreciated time spent with her brother, Bill, his wife and children at their home and at Loreli. One of the things she did not like about aging was losing her independence and energy. A side-effect of this was not being able to spend as much time with family. At the time of her 60th jubilee Pat said, “I have done just what I wanted to do…to reach out in compassion to other people, especially the poor. And it has brought me great joy.” As her Sisters, family and friends celebrate her life we give thanks for the joy and witness to God’s infinite goodness Pat brought to so many.
Born on August 12, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio
Parents: William Kinser (born in Dayton, Ohio) and Adda Frick (born in Celina, Ohio)
Siblings: William Kinser, Pauline Kinser Beauregard
Baptized on August 30, 1925 at St. Anthony Church in Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed on May 24, 1937 at St. Anthony Church in Dayton, Ohio
Entered on July 25, 1943 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: January 26, 1946
Final Profession: August 13, 1951
St. Anthony Parish School, Dayton, Ohio 1939
Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio, 1943
Bachelor of Science in Education from the Athenaeum of Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1956
Masters of Education in Administration from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1964
1946-1947 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1947-1949 St. Paul School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1949-1950 Holy Angels School, Dayton, Ohio
1950-1953 St. Xavier School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1953-1955 St. Paul School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1955-1957 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1957-1963 St. Paul School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1963-1967 St. Alexander School, Villa Park, Illinois
1967-1969 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1969-1973 St. Veronica School, Hamilton, Ohio
1973-1975 Catholic Central Community School, Hamilton, Ohio
1975-1976 Participant – Active Spirituality Program, Mt. St. Joseph College, Mt. St. Joseph, Ohio
1976-1982 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1982-1983 St. Helen School, Dayton, Ohio
1983-1989 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1989-1991 Pius Hall, Mt. Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1991-1996 Alliance for Work-Based Education, Cincinnati, Ohio
1996-2015 Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
2015-present: Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died: December 9, 2018 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn, SNDdeN
December 10, 2018