Sister Pat celebrates 50th jubilee and a ‘wonderful life’

Sister Pat

Sister PatMYRTLE BEACH—Since she professed vows in 1962, Franciscan Sister Patricia Przybylski has taught children, comforted the sick and dying, and brought many men and women into the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation.
As she prepares to celebrate her 50th jubilee, the sister who seems to have a perpetual smile on her face said she wouldn’t trade those years of hard work for anything.
“At this point in life, it’s amazing to look back on all the things I’ve done, and that I’m 71 and still working,” she said. “I still love what I’m doing, and can’t imagine doing anything else. I love meeting new people and love people in general.”
Sister Pat will celebrate her jubilee on Oct. 22 with a Mass and reception at St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, where she has been pastoral associate for 21 years.
She was invited to serve at St. Andrew by the late Msgr. Robert Kelly when he was pastor there. She had never been to South Carolina before, but Sister Pat said she quickly found a home at the rapidly growing parish.
Her work brings her into contact with the diverse population the church serves, from young families to tourists, snowbirds and retirees.
Born in Baltimore, Md., she was one of three children of the late Michael and Amelia Przybylski.
During 12 years of Catholic school, she was taught by Franciscan sisters who inspired her vocation, she said. Sister Pat briefly considered joining a cloistered order like the Carmelites, but one of the sisters she knew said her outgoing personality belonged in a teaching order like the Franciscans.
She professed vows with the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia in 1962 and taught elementary school for 17 years, first in Pennsylvania and then in Maryland after her father had a stroke and she returned to her home state to help care for her parents.
During those years, her fellow Franciscan sisters helped many times.
Retired sisters would sit with her mother and father, and others helped with the housework.
Her religious community and strong faith helped her tremendously when her parents died within a day of each other in 1984, she said. 
Sister Pat first started pastoral work, including taking the Eucharist to the sick and dying, in the early 1970s as part of her duties. She served full time in the job first in Maryland and then at St. Andrew.
Her regular work includes visiting the sick and elderly at home, in hospitals and in area nursing homes.  Many people might be uncomfortable being around people who are dying, but Sister Pat said she has learned to deal with it.
“God has gifted me with a joyous personality to be able to bring comfort and consolation to the people I visit,” she said. “It is an awesome experience to be with people who are ready to meet their God.”
She has also led the RCIA program for 17 years, and said it is a privilege to help people along on their journey of faith.
She explained that one of the best parts of a religious vocation is the sense of camaraderie in service to God.
“You have the support of the sisters, knowing you have a whole community to back you up,” she said. “You know that you’re not the only one … Being a religious sister is a wonderful life and a fulfilling life. I can look back and say I’ve done something important with my life!”