In Memory of Sr. Pat

12/31/1942 – 06/03/2024
Final Vows taken in Boston, MA, July 1968 for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Sister Patricia (Pat) O’Malley was born in Detroit, Michigan. An only child, she longed for siblings. Sister O’Malley characterized her childhood, “I was kind of a spiritual little kid. I loved going to daily Mass and praying Novenas with my mother, especially when we lived in Boston,” she recalled, adding how the priest allowed her to light the candles. “That was a big deal, especially in the 1950s, especially a little girl up on the altar.”

It was there, at age 10, she decided to prepare for consecrated life. And while the desire stayed with her, it was not until the eighth grade when she lived in Virginia that she decided to join the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the religious who taught in her school. She persuaded a friend, Louise, to go with her. Thinking Patricia O’Malley was along for the ride, the Reverend Mother accepted Louise and denied young Patricia. But when she got to high school and encountered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur she found a home and the “siblings” she always wanted. “It was the hand of God,” she said. “They were really happy people. They were fun to be with, very education minded. They were human.” '

It was the 1960s, during the civil rights and farmworker movements, the closure of the Second Vatican Council, and the height of the Vietnam War. Her work as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur reflects the impact of those events and the course they set for her life as a religious.

Sister O’Malley prayed the words of the religious order’s foundress, Sister Julie Billiart’s words, “Ah! How good is the good God.” For Sister O’Malley, that meant, “Being appreciative of God’s goodness every day” and His beauty in others. “That can be challenging, particularly these days,” she said. “It’s a whole spirituality in itself. You need a contemplative stance to do that because it calls for a sense of presence.”

That presence brought her first to serve God’s holy children, living within the connectivity of the Divine, settling upon His roots. She ministered as a primary grade schoolteacher for fifteen years. She co-founded a Montessori pre-school in a low income housing project for seven years and then taught in Boston’s inner city for sixteen years. “We saw education as a way for these children to begin to change, first themselves, then to move out of the poverty cycle.” In the morning, they taught. In the afternoon, they visited the families.

Sister O’Malley lived as a humble servant echoing hope across halls and ceilings and parking lots, bearing those within for God. In 1981 she responded to the call of the Holy Spirit by accepting a position at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park, Florida as Director of Family Life Outreach. With the support of Msgr. Richard Walsh and Ruth Bliss, she established a Thanksgiving and Christmas store for needy families, advocated for social justice, and traveled to Nicaragua as part of Witness for Peace, promoting peace, justice, and sustainable economies in third-world countries. The Thanksgiving and Christmas stores continue to serve the community during these seasons.

She also ministered as a regional advocate for the Diocese of Orlando Tribunal serving God’s people in the parishes of Volusia County and St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Altamonte Springs. She served as a court expert for Tribunal annulment cases. She earned a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling. She and fellow Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Virginia (Gini) West began a counseling center in Winter Park. The two sisters also designed and led Convalidation workshops, offering healing and hope to those seeking God’s solace and renewal.

Sister O’Malley became involved in St. Margaret Mary’s mission work in Haiti. Her advocacy roots were firmly planted, and she continued to serve in social justice activities in the Central Florida region. She brought forth God’s goodness through her compassion and led young people (whom she said are “dynamite”) to assume responsibilities for the poor and needy. Her gentle manner inspired the people to encounter God and share His generous mercy. She, a lovely messenger bringing the Gospel of Peace. Sister Patricia O’Malley lived as the breath of the good God.