Prior to retirement, Sister Patrice Rog held roles of teacher, librarian, principal, retreat and spiritual director, and campus minister. She taught in grades as low as third and all the way through adult education. When she retired in 2015, she was ready to repackage her skills in new ways.
Her first few months of retirement were spent reading books about prayerfulness while in recovery from a hip replacement. The rest time allowed her to reflect: “Who am I when I don’t have a job? What is my value when I’m not earning a stipend?” By the time her healing was complete, she knew that she was being called to continue offering spiritual retreats and teaching mindfulness to those around her. With three years of retirement under her belt, Sister Patrice focuses her attention on offering mindfulness workshops, serving as a spiritual director, and leading spiritual retreats. Through that work, she has helped hundreds of men and women navigate the tricky waters of rediscovering their value and redefining their identity during their late-life transitions.
As a spiritual director and when leading mindfulness workshops, Sister Patrice helps people recognize and be open to the peace brought by God’s presence in their daily lives. Her work as a spiritual director in Fond du Lac brings her joy and fulfillment. In her mind, it’s not a one-on-one relationship; it’s a conversation with one person and God with her in the room.
These same ideas inform her style when volunteering in the community, where she challenges herself by offering spirituality sessions for the occupants of a local women’s addiction treatment center and serving as a crisis line volunteer and advocate for a sexual assault service provider.
She explains, “When a woman calls the crisis line, she is often having flashbacks of her assault or panic attacks. Usually as I coach her in breathing in peace and breathing out anxiety, she calms down rather quickly. Mindfulness is a great technique!”
Mindfulness is just one of many techniques that Sister Patrice keeps in her toolbox when leading spiritual retreats. The retreats have taken her all over the country and into audiences of all varieties. She focuses on helping those in transition maintain their relationship with God, regardless of whether that transition is aging, illness, loss, moving into a retirement community, or any other moment in life when there is sense of losing autonomy.
One recent retreat required many hours of preparation to develop materials for a weeklong event for Francisan sisters. Sister Patrice’s time was spent digging deep into three volumes exploring the life of St. Francis, reading books on aging, and creating resources that connected the dots between the two. Her eventual theme for the retreat was “Embracing the Gift of Aging through the Lens of Francis and Clare.”
During a Lenten retreat, Sister Patrice journeyed to Gallup, New Mexico, where she worked with Sister Rene Backe, CSA, and a group of 60 religious and lay women. Sister Rene’s Lenten retreat was opened to lay women several years ago. She says, “I think it is important to share any spiritual nourishment we can with all in the diocese who are hungry for it. The folks who participate in our yearly retreats usually find them enriching and spiritually nourishing.”
Sister Patrice celebrated her 75th birthday in April and says her focus on mindfulness and transitions has been great for her personal growth. “The work hits home, because as I’m dealing with the aging process, I’m realizing I’m there myself. I’m not just preaching to the choir; I’m part of the choir!”
— Dusty Krikau