Gertrude Patch, RSCJ

Gertrude Patch, RSCJ RIP

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.


Submitted by Lee Trahan on

My prayers and condolences go out to the Society of the Sacred Heart community and to "Aunt Gertrude's" family.

Submitted by Elizabeth Ciaccio on

Thank you Lee! Her family misses her terribly!

Submitted by Pat Goodman on

My deepest sympathy and prayers to Sr. TRUDY'S family.   She touched so many lives through her gracious presence.  A wonderful woman.

Submitted by Elizabeth Ciaccio on

Thank you Pat, She was such a large presence in our family she has left a big hole. Liz

Submitted by Madeleine Vessel on

I remember Sister Gertrude Patch as a quiet, regal woman going about her duties while I was at San Francisco College for Women. She and her beloved are in my prayers at this time.

Submitted by Elizabeth Ciaccio on

"Aunt Gertrude" had a significant role in our family. In addition to all she accomplished professionally she always was actively involved in family events. This holiday season will be an adjustment without her. Knowing she is peaceful in heaven is a huge comfort. She will have many in the family who will assure that her memory and influence lives on.

Submitted by Andrew Woodd on

As senior speaker, and the first full-time male graduate in the class of 1971, it was my privilege to have known Sister Gertrure Patch, a woman of great intellect and compassion, as Lone Mountain College was transitioning from a women's college to an exciting, forward-looking liberal arts university for the new century. Her stewardship in this transition left a legacy of marvelous accomplishments in all disciplines. She will be remembered, forever appreciated by her peers and students alike, and always loved, as she loved those she served so well.

Andrew Wood, LMC Class of 1971

Submitted by Christine Owen on

I had the privilege of working as Sister Patch's secretary when she was president at Lone Mountain College in the 60's. It was a time of great change and the college was located just a few blocks from Haight/Ashbury where society was being transformed rapidly by a young generation who wanted peace not war. One iconic image was of a soldier with a rose emerging from the tip of his rifle. These were the flower children. Trudy gracefully glided through, going with the flow of the best of the spirit of this time. I remember how she transformed her office by having it painted yellow and putting up a Haight/Ashbury poster. She could steer through all kinds of controversy, with the poetry of Rilke to feed her soul. When the required work was done in the office she gave me a special project to type up her favorite quotes onto yellow cards. This was in the days of electric typewriters, carbon paper, and whiteout. She was so patient with her secretary. She had a way of looking into your soul and letting all the love in her big heart pour through. Now, she is still available to us through her photos giving us love from her new abode in the heart of God. Thank you, dear Trudy for being part of my life, for your love of God, for your wisdom and compassion. Blessings on your soul journey.