The retirement of Sr. Patty Lasher, OSB, comes like all things in her life: at the right moment.
Or as Sr. Patty explains, more like an evolution that sees her retiring after 25 years as associate director of counseling services for Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
“I’ve never had a job I didn’t like,” said Sr. Patty, who was also a schoolteacher, vocation director, and parish minister.
Her role as counselor at Saint Meinrad was filled with joyful expectations as she helped prepare men for the priesthood by developing their gifts.
“I see people at their best,” said Sr. Patty. “I’ve loved every minute working here. Every morning, I’d rather go to work than not.”
It might seem like a strange comment coming from a counselor helping people through problems, concerns, stress or anxiety, but Sr. Patty doesn’t think so.
“Seminary is about trying in a conscious way to grow spiritually, to grow as a human person,” she said. “That’s when we are at our best – when we are trying to be honest with ourselves. When we are looking at all areas of our life, we really want to grow. I don’t see any negatives in that.”
It’s Sr. Patty’s own gifts that will be missed, said Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, president-rector of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
Those gifts are the gift of presence, the gift of stability, and a “very calm demeanor,” said Fr. Denis. “She was really present to everyone,” he said. “Not just to those she counseled, but to anyone at work, meals, or in chapel. You could always perceive her presence of prayer.”
Fr. Denis witnessed the “beautiful peace” Sr. Patty brought to her job. “Every time I gave a talk or a presentation, there was always a handwritten thank you note, and that means so much to me. It will be greatly missed,” he said.
When speaking with Sr. Patty, one senses a deep trust in God for every moment that comes her way. Her devotion to the Blessed Mother has also guided her.
“She took all that happened to her and lived the mystery,” said Sr. Patty. “It wasn’t what she was expecting, but she was able to search for what it all means, pondering it all in her heart, and that is inspiring to me.”
Sr. Patty’s life mirrors those words of pondering. It was while teaching that her evolution began, she said. “I looked around the parish and thought there needs to be more than teachers in the school, and I have something to offer the parish at large.”
While she was serving as a parish minister in Arizona, people started asking her to counsel them. “I felt unprepared,” she said. A master’s degree in counseling, at Santa Clara University, gave her the skills she needed.
“Life is not that easy, and being a priest is not that easy,” she said. “There has to be a strong relationship with God and a reliance on faith. You have to trust that relationship because God only gives us good things.”
Then she uses the word “evolves” again to describe God’s work in our lives.
“We need to trust that wherever we are, God wants us to be. We can’t plan all that. We have no idea what our vocation will really look like; it evolves. I think the secret to living is that we take one day at a time and let God work. We need to believe that God is working in whatever moment presents itself to us.”
Her favorite Bible passage from John 17:21 is marked in her own Bible as she reads, “May they all be one.”
“That is the ultimate call to arrive and understand how we are all one with God,” she said. “Too often we only look at our differences.”
While Sr. Patty doesn’t have any plans for retirement, except returning to her motherhouse, Monastery Immaculate Conception of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, IN, she is sure of one thing: “There’s lots of places (where) counseling comes in handy.”