Patricia Jean Manion retrospective 2010
m Sister P.J. Manion stands in front of the first New Mexico State Women's Historical Marker initiative to the Sisters of Loretto. COURTESY PHOTO Nun holds fast to her writing dream By Ana Pacheco For The New Mexican When Patricia Jean Manion was 21, she made the decision to become a nun knowing that her life would change drastically. She had one pressing thought: "I remember thinking that I was giving up my dream of being a journalist," she said. Celestial blessings must have been in order when, on Dec. 8, 1946, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, Patricia Jean "P.J." Manion became a novice to the Sisters of Loretto and began her writing career. As the 85-year-old 85-year-old 85-year-old 85-year-old 85-year-old said, "Sister Dafrosa, the mistress of novices, novices, sent me and another novice to the archives at the convent to find information on the history of the Loretto nuns. Then at the end of my second second year, I was told that I would be leaving for El Paso to teach second grade at St. Joseph's Parochial School. I had compiled so much research I wondered what I should do with it, and I was told by Mother Superior Edwarda to take it with me and that I would find time to work on a book." When Manion arrived in El Paso, she began work on her first book, Only One Heart: The Life Mother Praxedes Carty. According to Manion, the book, which tells the story of the second founder of the Sisters of Loretto, took 13 years to complete while she worked as a teacher of literature and writing in Santa Fe, Denver and Sterling, III During school vacations, she worked on her book, published published in 1962. Sixty-four Sixty-four Sixty-four years later, she is still a nun and the author of three books and a contributing contributing writer on two othes. Her second book, Beyond the Adobe Wall: The Sisters of Loretto in New Mexico 1852-1894, 1852-1894, 1852-1894, published in 2002, depicts the story of five nuns on the journey along the Santa Fe Trail from Kentucky to found Loretto Academy. The book brought her to Santa Fe, but she was no stranger to town; she taught at Loretto in the early '50s and lived here on two occasions. "The first time I saw Santa Fe was out of the bus window window on Water Street on my way to my first mission in El Paso. I remember looking out and saying to myself, 'I Ana Pacheco A Wonderful Life hope I get to live here one day,'" she said. Manion traveled to China to work on her third book, Venture into the Unknown, Loretto in China 1923-1998, 1923-1998, 1923-1998, published in 2006. "The book was comprised of information contained in the 700 letters that the sisters wrote back to the Mother-house Mother-house Mother-house regarding their experiences experiences in China. The letters were wonderfully written covering everything from the big floods to the time when Mao Zedong came into power and expelled the nuns from China," she said. Manion spearheaded spearheaded the book Naming Our Truth, Loretto Feminists and Peace Activists, published in 1996. It includes chapters by Loretto nuns on topics ranging from the women's movement to the Vietnam War. Today Manion lives in Nerinx, Ky, at the Loretto Motherhouse and travels to Santa Fe and other parts of the country as she works with members of the Loretto community community on a book tentatively titled A Century of Change. That book describes the second hundred years of the Loretto order from 1912 to 2012 and will be published in 2012. The Sisters of Loretto hope to have a celebration in Santa Fe to honor the order's 200-year 200-year 200-year history in America. Manion was born in St. Louis in 1925 and was educated by the Sisters of Loretto from grade school through her years at Webster Webster College. Her desire to write goes back to childhood. "I would sit on the stoop in front of my house with my friends, and my mother would come out and tell me to go run around and play and I would say, 'But Mom, I'm telling a story.'" She attributes her success to high school and college teachers who encouraged her to pursue writing. "I just hope that during the years that I taught that I was able to encourage my students to follow follow their dreams," she said. The Sisters for Loretto laid Manion's path. "Sixty-four "Sixty-four "Sixty-four years ago, I decided to become a nun and in the back of my mind I thought that I would just 'try it out,' but I soon found that it was just perfect for me." AnaPacheco's weekly tribute to our community elders appears every Sunday. She can be reached at 474-2800. 474-2800. 474-2800.