For 10 years Sr. Catherine Patten brought to life the spirit and practice of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative as envisioned by Cardinal Bernardin and housed at the National Pastoral Life Center in New York. During those years Sr. Catherine served as Coordinator of the Initiative and, for three of them, as Acting Director of the NPLC.
Grounded in an understanding of the principles of dialogue, she was able to translate their meaning for use in the parishes, organizations, schools and other institutions of the Church. Gifted as a writer, Sr. Catherine created and circulated quarterly issues of The Initiative Report, the newsletter of the Initiative. Her talents in bringing focus, direction, and inspiration to these pages led thousands of readers to understand the hopes and dreams articulated in the founding document of the CCGI, “Called to be Catholic: The Church in a Time of Peril.”
Persuasive as a speaker, Sr. Catherine organized and addressed numerous conferences, colloquia, and conversations, leading participants to a new vision of how to interact with civility, respect, and professionalism in the ministries they represented. Prophetic as a leader, she articulated the goals of the CCGI and formulated action plans to meet the evolving and complex needs of the contemporary church. As a result of her work CCGI reached faithful Catholics across the country and those who serve them through the Church’s ministry by changing irrevocably their approaches and attitudes. Together with Msgr. Philip Murnion and the NPLC staff, she kept in sight the mission of the NPLC – to study and advance the development of parish leadership and ministry in a changing Church in the U.S.
Rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, all her ministries have reflected her deep spiritual instincts and her profound human insights. Prior to coordinating the Initiative Sr. Catherine was the Director of Social Ministries at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Old Bridge, New Jersey where she served and advocated effectively for the neediest in the parish. From 1976 to 1986 Sr. Catherine was at St. Mark’s House of Prayer, a ministry of the Eastern American Province of her Congregation, The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. There, in a contemplative setting, she provided spiritual direction to numerous priests, religious and lay persons and responded to invitations to offer spiritual guidance to a variety of religious groups.
Currently Sr. Catherine is serving on the General Council of the Institute of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, an international congregation of approximately 900 sisters serving in 14 countries around the world. Her lifelong love of the Church and commitment to promoting the person and mission of Jesus Christ are now utilized in leadership of her religious community.
Sister Catherine, we salute you, we honor you, and we thank you for the spirited service you have rendered to the CCGI, service characterized by an unfailing recognition of the efforts of others, by your humble estimation of your own role, by your inimitable sense of humor, and by your magnanimous gift of self for the building up of the faith of all you encountered during your years at the NPLC. Congratulations!