Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)

Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul) died Wednesday, July 12, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation of the cremated remains will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934, to Michael F. and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1954, from St. Joseph Parish, Butte. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and final vows on July 16, 1962.

Sister Pat taught elementary school in Missoula, Mont.; Omaha, Neb.; Seattle; and San Francisco. She was learning center teacher in Seattle and N. Hollywood, Calif., where she was also learning center director. She served as school secretary and learning center coordinator in Butte, where she also ministered as nurse aide and in home health care. She was coordinator of religious education in San Francisco.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Mary Dresden. She is survived by her brother Michael (Elaine) Perko, Tucson, Ariz.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 62 years.

Sister Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 25, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Patricia Ann Perko.

Patricia Ann was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934. She was the first child of Michael and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. A brother Michael and a sister Mary completed the family. Pat loved her hometown and never forgot her roots. She knew everything about Butte and maintained relationships formed there for the rest of her life. Both of her parents were born there as well. Her father, a railway clerk, was a member of the first graduating class at St. Joseph Grade School. Sister M. Gervase Tuffy, BVM signed his school diploma.

Pat also attended St. Joseph Grade School, graduated from Girls Central High School, and completed one year at Saint Mary College in Xavier, Kan., before answering the call to religious life. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1954, and received the name Vincent de Paul upon her reception on March 19, 1955. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and lived 62 years as a BVM.

After profession, Pat was sent to study at the Scholasticate in Chicago. Her ministry in elementary education led to missions at St. Anthony and St. Joseph in Missoula, Mont.; St. Bridget in Omaha, Neb.; St. John in Seattle; and All Souls in San Francisco. She also worked in learning centers at St. John and at St. Charles in North Hollywood, Calif., where she later served as the director. She was the coordinator of the learning center at Central Junior High and a secretary at South Central School, both in Butte. She also ministered as the religious education coordinator at St. Francis Parish in San Francisco and as a leader for the RCIA and RENEW programs in her parish in Butte.

Pat was intelligent, hardworking and conscientious. Her levelheadedness, patience and flexibility put her at ease in any situation while her nonjudgmental acceptance and support of others helped her relate to people of all ages. She benefited from these qualities when she ministered as a nurse aide and home care provider in Butte for 12 years. Caregiving truly was her greatest ministry. Here at Mount Carmel, sewing was another talent that Pat graciously shared by mending clothes for other residents.

Pat was observant and pensive, quiet and unassuming, preferring to gather information before making a decision or even commenting. Yet, at an unexpected moment, she delighted others with a delicious sense of humor. She enjoyed organizing events, from vacations and family visits to Montana cluster meetings to a combined celebration for her golden jubilee and 70th birthday. After moving to Mount Carmel, she welcomed any new arrivals from Montana and members of her set and arranged gatherings for both groups.

In Pat, there was an intimate depth of knowing God. Many years ago, she embraced creation spirituality and discovered her true self. Those who ventured into relationship with her found a deeply spiritual woman and a font of wisdom.

Her golden jubilee booklet included quotes from Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen: “All of creation is a symphony of joy and jubilation . . . God has arranged all things in the world in consideration of everything else . . . Everything in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, is penetrated in relatedness.” Hildegard draws us into the joy and jubilation that all creatures celebrate together, echoing the command in Psalm 148 for all creation to “Praise God.”

Pat “loved [Wisdom] more than health or beauty, and chose to have her rather than light” (Wisdom 7:10) and along the journey found peace. When asked if she was afraid of dying, she simply replied, “No, I am entering into the cosmos.” Pat was a gentle soul, a true treasure, and a great blessing to us all.

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