by Andrew Nelson, The Georgia Bulletin
SANDY SPRINGS—Sister Patricia Chappell is helping to build a road map for the future of Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace movement. Its executive director for the last nine months, Sister Chappell is going around the country to gauge the opinions of and pick up insights from members of the organization.
She spent some time in Atlanta where a regional meeting was held at St. Jude Church, Sandy Springs, Sept. 15.
Sister Chappell has been a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for 35 years. One of seven children, she grew up in New Haven, Conn., with a civil servant father and a nurse mother.
She sat down to talk about her organization and vocation. Her responses are excerpted below.
How is it you are Catholic?
I was born and raised in New Haven, Conn. I come from a family that has been traditionally Catholic. As soon as I was born, I was baptized Catholic, although at one point, our parents were open to us exploring other possibilities, and I did. At one point, I didn’t think the Catholic Church was the religion I wanted to choose, so I explored the Muslim community, the Baptist churches, but in the end I found my spirit really resonated with the Catholic Church. And as a result of that, I have continued to remain Catholic.
What is an early faith memory that you have?
I can remember early on, even before I started elementary school, my mom would take us to Mass: my mother, my grandmother, my aunts. That was always an early memory of going to Mass, participating in the Mass, but in that time, sisters, the nuns, were also there in full habits. I can always remember about being fascinated and curious about the sisters.
Back in those days, when you went to Sunday Mass, you sat with the sisters who taught your class. So even as a young child, I can remember my cousins sitting with their teachers, who were the sisters, on Sundays, and I was like, “I can’t wait to go to elementary school so I can also sit with my classmates and sit with the sisters.” It was always a fond memory…