“Mis caminos no son tus caminos.”
“My ways are not your ways.”
– Isaias/Isaiah 55:8
Sister Patricia (Pati) Reinhart was born in the Presidio of San Francisco during World War II, and was followed at five-year intervals by brother, Michael, and sister, Barbara. She spent thirteen years at Notre Dame de Victoires School, where Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange instilled a love of language and liturgy. Meanwhile, her parents established the family home in St. Agnes Parish, where both had been baptized; the school there was staffed by Presentation Sisters. The parish is located near Haight Street, which made for very interesting times during the Hippie days of the 1960’s!
Pati was drawn to the St. Joseph community, but agreed to attend Stanford University before making a decision. At the Newman Club there, she became involved in summer mission projects in Michoacan, Mexico. The vision shifted from convent to lay apostolate. After graduating in 1964 with a BA in Anthropology, she obtained a Teaching Credential at San Francisco State, then taught for three years at Madison School, continuing to serve in Mexico every summer. Meanwhile, she had met some Presentation Sisters while teaching a Confirmation class at St. Agnes.
In 1968, Sister Kathleen Healy mentioned that she needed a sixth-grade teacher at St. Teresa’s School. Pati accepted the invitation and discovered a new vision of religious life: a little house, parish involvement, justice concerns. Above all, she found the inspiration of Nano Nagle: “Spend yourselves for the poor.” She entered Presentation on August 24, 1970.
Following Nano’s footsteps led to a series of apostolic adventures. Pati served as teacher, then principal, at two schools in the gang-ridden barrio of East Los Angeles, where she joined parishioners in community organizing. In all her schools, her favorite celebration was Halloween!
From there, an unexpected return to Michoacan—four years of challenging mission in the P’urhepecha parish of Tarecuato, where women still wore long skirts and Corpus Christi was a celebration of all the local occupations.
Returning to California, she continued in parish work in Salinas, becoming familiar with farmworkers’ lives and the influence of Cesar Chavez. She discovered an even more rural world when Sisters Rita Jovick, Catherine Mary King, and she moved to the Central Valley (“The Other California”) to establish an adult education program in Tipton. Cows and more cows!
ESL experience there led to teaching at Gavilan College in Gilroy, Garlic Capital of the World. Presentation Sisters had staffed St. Mary School there since 1890. Pati was delighted to connect with Sister Bobbi Green, a Gilroy native, and Associate Christa Hanson, former principal of St. Mary, both still serving at the school. She was also privileged to be on the closing faculty of the Learning and Loving Center.
Now, having once said, “Fog City, nunca más!” Pati has been elected to serve on the community’s Leadership Team. At this time of great change in religious communities, she hopes to support her Sisters as they carry Nano’s lantern into the future.