Sister Jean Fitzpatrick, a Missionary Sister of St. Columban passed away on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 at St. Columban’s on the Lake. Sister Jean had resided at St. Columban’s for 26 years, and died peacefully in the company of her Columban community, the wonderful and devoted caring staff and the Hospice staff.
Sister Jean (Gail) Fitzpatrick was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Oct. 14, 1938 to Mildred McBride and Frank Fitzpatrick and received her early education in Brooklyn. Later she studied at LeMoyne College, Syracuse where she graduated with a BA in English.
After graduation, Gail decided to commit her life to God and to the service of others. She chose the Irish missionary order of Columban Sister and became a Postulant in Hyde Park, Boston, M.A. in the fall of 1960. She was received into the Congregation, as a Novice, April 25, 1961 taking the religious name Sister Mary Jean. On April 26, 1963 she made her First Profession in Hyde Park.
Since Sister Jean was already a qualified teacher, she was assigned to Blessed Sacrament School, Westminister, California, where in 1968 she made her Final Profession choosing as her motto “Caritas Christi urget nos” (The love of Christ impels us).
Sister Jean was known to keep the attention of her 8th Graders when teaching mathematics and essay writing by incorporating the current scores and biographies of all the outstanding American athletes. She never tired explaining the details about the various sports e.g. football, baseball and basketball and who was winning and losing. This was always shared with a wonderful sense of humor and her gift with words. Coaching was her joy and passion and she enjoyed being with her students who loved to call her “The Coach”. As Sister Jean was also a gifted musician, she was the Choir Directress for many years. In Our Lady of Guadalupe School in East Los Angeles, she continued to share her gifts of teaching, coaching and music.
Sister Jean furthered her studies and attained her MA in Guidance Counselling in 1973 and in 1979 – 1980 went to Dublin, Ireland where she did Theological studies and later at Maryknoll N.Y., took a course in Cross Cultural Ministry.
Following her studies, Sister Jean was assigned to Columban Community in Chicago where she served as the Area and Mission Bursar and also did outreach of Mission Education through Church Appeals. Sister Jean also was involved in teaching in Catholic Schools for several years.
In 1994 Sister Jean moved to Silver Creek, N.Y. and into a beautiful apostolate of Parish Retreats teaming with an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest. Her pastoral caring heart touched many in the various parishes where she gave retreats in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada.
For 36 years, during the summer months, Sister Jean travelled to Churches around the country to appeal at Masses for the Columban Sisters missionary work worldwide.
Sister Jean’s final years were mainly a service of prayerful intercession and suffering. She never forgot to pray for those in need, as she always kept up to date with the world news. Her special prayers were for the Armed Forces and the First Responders.
Sister Jean is survived by her sister-in-law Kathie, her niece Jean, her nephews John and Brian, grand nieces and nephews, members of the family of her late brother Keith. And by her cousin Fr. Paul Fitzpatrick, Marianist Fathers.
Her community at St. Columban’s on the Lake, will miss Sister Jean even though they are grateful that her suffering is now over and she is enjoying the fullness of joy in God’s presence.
Arrangements for a private funeral are by the McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home.