Faithful Friend living Franciscan values
FSPA is blessed to have Patrick McMenamy as a partner in mission. Since 1978, Patrick has been a collaborator with us through Faithful Friends, a monthly giving program that invites all to support our ministries of prayer, witness and service. He shares with us inspiration — compassion and Franciscan values — to serve.
FSPA Faithful Friend Patrick McMenamy and his wife Elaine
How did you come to know FSPA?
I was born in 1939 at St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The first three months of my life were spent there under the care of Bernita Kuennen, FSPA, who remained a lifelong friend of our family.
I attended Holy Cross School and Aquinas High School, both in La Crosse. FSPA staffed both schools so from kindergarten through 12th grade I was taught and influenced by them. Numerous sisters had a major impact on my formation; however, Sister Margaret Heil, my 7th and 8th grade teacher, influenced me the most. She became my role model, mentor and treasured friend until the day she was called home by Jesus: June 9, 2017, at the age of 96. So, you see, I was formed by Franciscans and try to live my life according to the values instilled in me by FSPA.
In 7th and 8th grade, Patrick (second row, far right) was taught by Sister Margaret Heil.
When I was 13, serving morning Mass at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, I noticed a new postulant coming to the communion rail. Our eyes met and I felt she was looking right into my soul. I had never experienced that before. Her name was Sister Thea Bowman. She became another role model for me as I witnessed what she was and all she did. I pray to her daily and consider her a friend for all of my prayers that she’s answered through her intercessions.
How have FSPA contributed to your life?
I’ve had many challenges to overcome during my life and when things were confusing, I’d give Sister Margaret a call. She always helped me make the right choices. When I was really down, I’d think of the sisters praying in the Adoration Chapel at St. Rose and draw strength, knowing that they were interceding on my behalf.
The sisters taught me how to serve Mass and chiseled the Latin responses into my brain. In fact, to this day I can still recite them in Latin. I served Mass at Holy Cross, Aquinas and St. Rose from grade school through high school. I continue to serve Mass and train acolytes for our parish and grade school today.
FSPA showed me by example how to serve others. I am a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, serve on parish and community boards and volunteer with other organizations.
Patrick in 1953
What calls you to collaborate with us as a Faithful Friend?
FSPA cared for my dying parents at St. Francis Hospital and their love and kindness will always be remembered through my monthly support of their work.
Outside of my family, the sisters have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives, not only by their incredible works but by the powerhouse of prayer in the Adoration Chapel. The sisters have worked diligently for social justice and helping the poor. This work, so critical in today’s world, must be supported.
Do you have a message to share with the FSPA community about their ministries? Are there any in particular that you are passionate about?
There are several ministries that are dear to my heart: justice and peace, spirituality and care of the environment. The work of the sisters in those ministries is so important, especially as society faces the current COVID-19 pandemic.