Birth: October 28, 1926
Profession: February 10, 1956
Death: August 24, 2015
Religious of the Sacred Heart Gertrude Patch died Monday, August 24, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Remembered as exceptionally intelligent, compassionate, creative and dependable, a woman of integrity and wisdom, her life will be celebrated with a funeral Mass on Saturday, September 12 at 10:00 am in the Oakwood chapel, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton. Burial will be in the Society of the Sacred Heart cemetery at Oakwood.
Gertrude (Trudy) Keiley Patch was born in Brooklyn on October 28, 1926 to Roderick S. and Gertrude Keiley Patch, the second oldest of four. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her brother, Roderick Patch and a nephew, Phillip Lucier Jr. She is survived by her sisters, Mary Lee Lucier and Frances (Mrs. Clarence) Ciaccio of Newport Beach, California, nieces Elizabeth Ciaccio of Tustin, California, and Mary Tweedy of San Diego, California and nephew Roderick Ciaccio of Houston, Texas, as well as her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart.
It was during her sophomore year of high school that Trudy became aware of her call to religious life, but at her parents’ urging, she attended San Francisco College for Women in San Francisco, which was owned by the Society of the Sacred Heart. (This college became Lone Mountain and is now a part of the University of San Francisco.) Here she met and was deeply impressed by the Religious of the Sacred Heart. A year after graduation, in 1947, she entered the novitiate at Kenwood, in Albany, NY, at the age of twenty-one. In February, 1950, Sister Patch pronounced first vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart, and was then sent for one year at each of the Sacred Heart Schools in Chicago, Lake Forest, Illinois and Menlo Park, California. She made her first vows in the Society in 1950 and her final profession in 1956 in Rome.
Sister Patch first entered a classroom as teacher in 1953, at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Lake Forest, Illinois. From 1954 through 1956, she focused on her studies, completing her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from the San Francisco College for Women. From 1956 to 1958, she taught at San Francisco College for women while completing her dissertation for her Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Stanford.
Having completed her doctoral studies, in 1958 Sister Patch was assigned to teach English at the San Diego College for Women, which was also operated by the Society of the Sacred Heart. (It is now part of the University of San Diego.) In 1966, she returned to Lone Mountain as a member of the English department and to assist the President, Catherine Parks, RSCJ. When the latter became seriously ill, Sister Patch assumed her role at the university. This was, of course, a time of radical change in the world, nowhere more obvious or challenging than in religious and academic life. Sister Patch helped the school’s faculty, administration and students navigate the changes. As one alumna said later, “Her leadership was especially appreciated; she was a model of a modern Catholic religious woman of service to others." She served as president until 1978.
After a year’s sabbatical, she worked for a short time at the Fort Mason Foundation then for three years as the director of the internship program for the Washington Center for Learning Alternatives, a non-profit organization. In 1982, she went to Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, as executive vice president; she remained for nine years. In 1992, Sister Patch established the Office of Faith and Culture at Loyola University in Chicago. The office provided students, faculty and staff programs to help them better understand the Jesuit charism, or mission.
Sister Patch also served on the provincial leadership team of the California Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart, 1975-77. Her organizational and interpersonal skills and keen intelligence made her a natural choice for leadership positions. At the same time, her sisters recognized her “spirit of prayer” and compassionate nature.
After retiring from her rich academic career, Sister Patch returned to San Francisco. Always an educator, she began working with a literacy program sponsored by Project Read, where for ten years she helped adults improve their basic skills. She also tutored middle school students who had the desire and potential for challenging academic work in private high schools.
In addition to her full ministry, Sister Patch served on boards at Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco; the University of San Diego; and Barat College, Lake Forest, Illinois. She was a member of the Association of American Colleges, Commission on Religious in Higher Education.
Sister Patch moved to Oakwood in 2010.