I have just heard that Pat Logan died recently. Pat, along with perhaps three or four other people during my years as a Maryknoll sister, changed my world view as well as my view of myself. We worked together in the Publicity Department at the Motherhouse, and Pat is the one who wrote the scripts for the Maryknoll Sisters’ weekly television show, “Let’s Talk About God,” on NBC in New York, in which I held conversations with children- well, puppets – who freely expressed their questions and opinions about whatever topic seemed relevant at the time.
Pat herself was as questioning as the puppets she created. She was dedicated, energetic, and unorthodox. She was born in Scotland, and came to the States when her Scottish father immigrated as part of his work during World War II. Now that I’m living in Britain, I’m not sure Pat was quite as unorthodox as I thought then. Part of her was Scottish. But however much of her presentation was cultural, Pat had a liberating independence of spirit that was beyond culture.
It may be that the Maryknoll superiors knew something that I didn’t when they refused her permission to make final vows. But I’ve often thought it was that independence that was the basic problem. The RC Church was reeling with the shake-up begun by Vatican II, as well as the changes taking place in American society reflected in the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Corps. Our superiors were as shaken as most of the older generation by the seemingly insubordinate attitudes of the young who thought we were going to create a great new world. Hundreds of women were either told or chose to leave Maryknoll during this upheaval.
Pat did not want to leave Maryknoll – she thought she had a vocation. I think she did. But she belonged to a Maryknoll that has emerged from the tormented crisis of the 1960′s and 70′s. The Maryknoll Sisters, unlike the Vatican, did not try to obliterate the teachings of Vatican II, but has done a great deal to understand and live by them.
Pat and I were not permitted to be in contact after she left Maryknoll, and when I left myself several years later, I had no idea for many years where she was. We finally contacted each other just before my husband and I returned to Europe. By that time, I’d had a university career, married, lost a child. But learning that I was not bitter or angry about my time in Maryknoll seemed to give Pat the greatest joy.
We talked again several times over the years, but living on two different continents in those days made communication expensive.
Pat is another one of those people to whom I never thought to say thank you. She quite possibly wouldn’t have even known what I was talking about, and still being Scottish in some deep recess of her American self, she might have found it embarrassing if I’d tried. She would have said she was just being herself.
And she was. There was a no-nonsense down-to-earth quality about her, undisturbed by her significant gifts. She cared about people. She wanted to make a contribution. But she didn’t think one should make a big show of it. You just did your best, which in Pat’s case was often quite outstanding.
That’s why she gave me so much.