Sister Anne Patrick '69

Alumni Anne Patrick

Sister Anne Patrick

Laird Professor of Religion and Liberal Arts emerita, Carleton College

About Sister Anne Patrick:

By Tara Erwin

A 40-year-old reading assignment comes full circle as the book Anne Patrick '69, SNJM studied while attending Medaille now serves as inspiration for her latest writing accomplishment.

Teaching high school in Albany, N.Y. afforded Sister Anne precious little time to earn her degree. She attended Medaille over several summers and one winter trimester, earning her B.A. in English in 1969. One of her final projects was in an educational psychology class where she had to review a book from a pre-selected assortment that was arranged on a table in the college library.

"I was immediately drawn to the largest and newest title, Explorations in Creativity," she said. "I took notes assiduously, wrote a lengthy summary and review, and shared the most useful ideas with my high school students that spring and later with students and audiences at various ages."

The idea of creativity stayed with Sister Anne. In 2009, she revisited the topic in a lecture given at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame. After that, she put her thoughts on the subject in print, writing her second book, Women, Conscience and the Creative Process, which was published last year. The book focuses on Sister Anne's personal interpretation of conscience, drawing on Scripture, ethics, psychology and stories of women's lives to demonstrate the importance of the virtue of creative responsibility.

She has vivid memories of her time spent at Medaille, especially during the summer of 1966, when she and three other sisters were housed in what was a music classroom on the second floor of the Main Building. Accommodations were comfortable, albeit a bit sparse, with only roll-away beds and small dressers for the sisters to use. However, Sister Anne enjoyed playing the classroom piano, and busts of famous composers proved to be handy clothing racks for the sisters' headdresses.

"I recall needing to stay up late one night to finish a paper, so I carried a typewriter across the hall from the 'dorm' room and typed standing up at the counter in the lavatory so that I would not disturb the sleep of my companions," said Sister Anne.

She went on to earn her master's in English from the University of Maryland and her master's in divinity and a Ph.D. in religion and literature at the University of Chicago. In order to address some health issues, she retired in 2009 from Carleton College in Northfi eld, Minn., where she taught courses in Christian ethics, Catholicism, feminist and liberation theologies, and religion and literature for almost 30 years. She is already at work on her third book and looks forward to further exploring the subject of Catholic women and church vocations.

Sister Anne has graciously donated a copy of her book Women, Conscience, and the Creative Process to the Medaille library. "I'm happy to offer it for the shelves of the library that helped me get started on this material," she said.

That's Not All She Wrote
Sister Anne's literary success is the result of years of research, perseverance and discipline. Below is some divinely practical advice for aspiring authors, straight from Sister Anne herself.

  • Set a schedule. "There are so many other pressures coming from real needs and people around you who need immediate answers. It's easy to put those ahead of writing," Sister Anne said. Reserving a specific time for writing each day, every day, ensures consistency.
  • Recognize when the creative juices flow fastest. Sister Anne knew she was at her peak, from a writing standpoint, in the morning. "My energy and ideas were best when I first woke, so I'd reserve an hour in the morning, before going to class, to devote to writing," she said.
  • Treat it like a job. Even though your office might be a coffee shop and your work attire might be sweat pants, keep track of the hours you log writing your book to both motivate and give a sense of accomplishment. "For me, writing a book takes several hundred hours," said Sister Anne, "but by keeping a log, I was able to track my progress and see that it really does get done."
  • Enlist the help of peers. "Ultimately, writing is a solitary, lonely profession," said Sister Anne. To help her overcome writer's block and find support among like-minded colleagues, Sister Anne attends a writer's group. "We share ideas and update each other on what we're working on," she said.

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