Of the ministries in which she has served, Sister Patricia Glen remembers two most fondly: working in youth ministry in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and ministering to the sick and dying as a hospital chaplain. Today she provides on-call night coverage for emergencies at St. Joseph Residence in Seattle one week a month.
A native of Tacoma, she had her novitiate in Spokane, where she also took a degree in religious studies at Gonzaga University.
She currently is involved with mission integration at Providence Mount St.Vincent Nursing Center and as assistant local superior at St. Joseph Residence, both in Seattle.
When did you start thinking about becoming a sister?
By the time I was 20, I knew my spirituality was something I had to pay attention to. I was raised in a strong Catholic family with strong traditions, and our faith was part of our home life as well as our church life.
What influenced you to explore your vocation a little more?
When I got out of high school, I noticed that some of my girlfriends, who were also raised Catholic, were marrying outside of the church. That was a little wake-up call for me because I knew I couldn’t do that at that time. Now, why couldn’t I? I think it was a reflection that my spiritual life was more than something I did on Sunday. My faith was a big component of who I was, and I really didn’t know that until then
When did you decide this was the life for you?
I started thinking about what the sisters did and how our world would be different if we didn’t have them. The Franciscan sisters taught us in high school and I had a very good relationship with them. During this reflection process, my parish priest asked me if I thought I had a religious vocation. My response was, “No, no,” because I always thought I would get married and raise a family, but the question never left me and I had to pursue it. Six months later I asked him what I should do if God was really calling me to this life, and he helped me contact several vocation directors.
How did you choose Sisters of Providence?
A lot of vocation directors were contacting me and I met several of them. Then one day my pastor got a Caritas newsletter from Sisters of Providence. He read it and thought it sounded like me. So he wrote to the vocation director and also wrote to me, telling me the vocation director might be contacting me. She invited me for lunch.
When I got there, the menu contained several things such as pizza, sandwiches, leftovers, and the sisters asked, what would you like? It sounded so much like my family, I felt right at home.
What types of ministries did you get involved in?
I entered September 27, 1975. I didn’t know what direction my ministry would take, so I went back to school to receive a degree in religious studies from Gonzaga University. This allowed me to minister in parish work for ten years in the Seattle Archdiocese. This ministry included religious education, sacramental preparation and youth ministry.
When did you start working in the Providence Health System?
I was asked by one of our sisters if I would consider working in our health system. I wasn’t interested in the medical aspect of it, but I was interested in the spiritual journey of healing. I went back to school to become a hospital chaplain. This included a year of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). I worked as a staff chaplain for three years in Portland, then was named director of the Spiritual Care Department at Providence Yakima Medical Center.
Later on, my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and this led me back to the western side of the state. At the same time, Providence opened a door for me at Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle for a position in mission integration, which is where I work today.
How have you enjoyed life as a sister?
It has been a wonderful journey, and one door has opened up another. I have lots of close friends. Being a Sister of Providence has always felt right to me. I believe it was God who invited me to this lifestyle, and because of that I find much meaning in it.
What does Providence mean to you?
I believe the spirit of Providence is the very deep belief that God will provide what it is that I need. I believe deep in my heart that God is in charge and I don’t have to be afraid. I will receive what I need when I need it, and I have to open my eyes and heart to recognize it. God wants what is best for each of us more than any of us can ever imagine. To me that is Providence.
Do you find it easy to trust in Providence?
If you truly put your heart and life and worries in God’s hands, you start seeing the blessings. If I looked back 20 years ago and said this would have happened or that would have happened, I wouldn’t have guessed half the blessings that I’ve had. It seems the right people have crossed my path, or the right opportunity. But hard things have come, too. In times when my faith was drier (but not absent), I have trusted God’s presence and it’s been through the faith of others that my own was supported.
What have you enjoyed most about living in community?
I’ve enjoyed having other women around who share the values and love of God that I have. It’s supportive when you share that with others who understand it. I love the holidays and the liturgical celebrations. I think of the sisters who have gone on, who have helped create the community. Hopefully, I will help form community today for women who come after me. Being part of the Providence journey is something I enjoy deeply.
What are some of the challenges of community living?
There are always challenges living with other people. The only way you can do it well is to ask for God’s help and blessing. I think we?re stretched to become more loving and less judgmental and more patient. You can’t say I love God with all my heart and go out and be rude to everyone. So I’m challenged on those days, when I am rude, to go back, make peace and be humble enough to apologize.
Do you feel you have close contact with your family?
One of the things I like about religious life today that is a little different from the Pre-Vatican II era is that the connection with our family and friends is strong. You don’t leave for community and let go of your friends and family. We’re in really good contact with parents, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews. There are many people who are held close to my heart and it goes beyond the community. Years ago, you left the world to give your life to God. Today, to serve God we have to enter the world. You aren’t going to find God on some mountaintop unless you enter into the lives of people around you.