An Appreciation: Sr Patricia Madden
Devoted teacher inspired generations of students
Sr Patricia Madden: made an immense contribution to the life of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross and to the people of Donaghmore, Co Tyrone
Sr Patricia Madden was born in Manchester, on December 10th, 1938. She was the first of two children, the older sister to her only surviving brother, Jimmy. She attended the local parish school, and later attended Bury Convent Grammar school. It was here that she first encountered the religious Order of the Daughters of the Cross, who had a strong influence on her life.
She was a good student, and did well. She often recalled that her parents kept her feet firmly on the ground. Each year, she had to buy the wool and knit her school cardigan and take holiday jobs to earn some pocket money.
She went on to Liverpool University to study English, French, Latin and Spanish. Having completed her primary degree, she taught in Carshalton, the headquarters of the Daughters of the Cross at that time.
While in Carshalton and still a member of the laity, Sr Patricia attended Mass each morning in the convent chapel, and the novices used to wonder who the fashionable lady with the black mini-skirt, red jumper and stylish hair was! When she later turned up in the Novitiate as a novice, the skirt was a little longer, the red jumper exchanged for a black one, though the hair was swept back in a ponytail.
Following her Novitiate, she taught in Carshalton for a short time until she was missioned to Donaghmore, Co Tyrone.
At first, Sr Patricia fondly recounted she thought the locals were all speaking a foreign language, so unused she was then to the local accent. She was known as the “English Lady in the Convent” by the locals, but very soon she was accepted and loved by all. She quickly came to enjoy teaching in St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore, a testament to her flexibility and ability to adapt. She loved and cared for all her pupils, but above all she encouraged them to extend the boundaries of their imagination and to be open to wider educational and life experiences. They, in turn, referred to her lovingly as “Sr P”.
Sr Patricia laid down deep roots in Donaghmore, forming lasting friendships both in the community and with the staff who were inspired by her capacity to love and her qualities of loyalty, generosity and unfailing discretion. When the time came to leave Donaghmore in 2007 after 40 years, Sr Patricia showed great courage as her heart was broken at having to leave her beloved home.
She lived peacefully in retirement in Dublin for some years, taking care of her good friend and mentor Sr Mary Brogan. Following Sr Mary’s death in 2011, she returned to London to be close to her brother Jimmy.
Sr Patricia made an immense contribution to the life of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross often lecturing on church matters. She was passionate about social justice, the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and the writings of Pope Francis. She presented many papers on the Pope’s letters which she shared with the Sisters and the Associates of the Order.
She enjoyed the beauty of the natural world in her surroundings in Donaghmore.
Because of her honesty, warmth and frankness, she, in turn, was loved and appreciated by her community, colleagues, friends and past pupils.