A Sister’s Perspective
“A Sister’s Perspective” is intended to be a new column that draws on the wisdom of our sisters in order to offer advice and thoughts on a variety of broad topics. These topics include such things as peace, dealing with change, education, leadership, and more. We are grateful for the sisters’ willingness to share their wisdom with us. For this article, Sr. Patricia Hutchison was interviewed on the topic of service.
Service. What comes to mind when you think of this word? Dedicating your time to a soup kitchen? Living and working among people who are less fortunate?
For Sr. Pat Hutchison, service means sharing one’s God-given gifts to meet another’s needs. The focus of service, she said, should always be on those being served rather than on one’s own satisfaction.
Sometimes one’s gifts aren’t what one expects them to be. As a girl, Pat thought that she wanted to be a nurse following in the footsteps of her mother and cousin. She realized over time, however, that she “didn’t really have the gifts to be a nurse” and began to ask herself what gifts she did have. She found herself called to the religious life where she found gifts as an educator and administrator.
At Neumann University—and previously at St. John the Beloved and St. Paul Schools in Wilmington—Pat shared many of her gifts, especially her gifts of memory and presence. During her time as principal of these schools, Pat knew every student by name. As a professor in Neumann’s doctoral program, Pat makes it a priority to know each of her students personally as well as get to know other students through attending events on campus.
Beyond fostering relationships—an essential part of the Franciscan Tradition—Pat believes the Sisters of St. Francis follow in Francis’ footsteps through their commitment to those who may not have access to the resources they need. Noting the sisters’ ministries in schools such as Neumann and the Catholic High School of Baltimore, Pat said they “[try] to look around and say ‘what does a community need that’s not being fulfilled and how can we fulfill it?’”
This type of service is not always “satisfying” in the way that serving at a soup kitchen would be since one often may not see their direct impact. However, Pat emphasized that it is still service. Sharing her gift of patience, she currently serves on boards at Neumann and St. Francis Hospital.
Though she stressed the importance of not always wanting to do the “satisfying” type of service, Pat pointed out that service does have a place. Events such as Neumann’s Day of Service, for example, are specifically designed so that students feel they’ve had a fun bonding experience where they’ve really contributed to something. “They are using their gifts but also having a good time doing it,” explained Pat. “We want our students to embrace service after they leave us and also to leave them with a willingness to use their gifts in the service of others for the rest of their lives.”
Every person has gifts and talents to share and, while she feels this is an idealistic thought, Pat believes that if everyone “recognized, appreciated, and embraced the gifts that God gave us and were willing to share them, then, on a universal scale, all needs would be met.”
How have you felt called to share, or continue sharing, your gifts?
Communication Intern/Neumann Student