Within hours of receiving the news May 14 that Sister Christine Patrinos ’81, PhD, had lost her brave battle with cancer, the Holy Names University community gathered to remember her with fondness, tears and laughter. In the days since, a scholarship in her name has been created to continue one of her passions: supporting HNU students.
A pre-planned May 14 celebration honoring the 30th anniversary of Father Salvatore Ragusa’s ordination transitioned into a remembrance event honoring Sr. Chris, who joined the HNU faculty in 1995 and enjoyed 37 years of profession as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
At the suggestion from a friend that his anniversary festivities might be eclipsed by the impromptu noon memorial, Fr. Sal responded, “Not at all, not at all. It’s a gift to share this moment with her.”
For all the tears wiped from mourners’ eyes during the one-hour mass that drew nearly 60 attendees on short notice, many smiles were exchanged as well. Fr. Sal encouraged participants to share a single word that they associated with Sr. Chris, associate professor of political science and advisor to the Model United Nations and the Pacific Islanders Club.
“I would definitely say: welcoming,” said Fr. Sal in kicking off the one-word tributes. The attributes quickly flowed in from Sr. Chris’ friends and colleagues: Wit, loving, caring, strong. The label mischievous brought forth a burst of laughter. Others contributed terms including spunky, authentic, joyful and honest.
Invited to introduce Sr. Chris at the presentation of the Faculty Alumni Award to her during November Homecoming festivities, Jason Mosher ’96 echoed the sentiments of many former students in his remarks.
“There is not a single person who was not impacted by her love, friendship and sternness, especially if you took her 8 a.m. history class,” said Mosher, who helped Sr. Chris in founding the campus Model UN.
“Sister Chris challenged me in the classroom, and we enjoyed late night political discussions on the fourth floor of Dunn Residence Hall,” he recalled. “Upon graduation, our friendship continued, and we remained close. I was blessed to have Sr. Chris conduct a Hawaiian prayer in my wedding and visit Arizona following the birth my children.”
Like many others, Mosher credits his former advisor with helping him grow as a student and become the first in his family to earn a college degree, a tradition he expects will continue. His five children, he says, will follow in his academic footsteps.
Avenues for paying tribute to the beloved mentor, teacher, and colleague quickly sprung up. The campus community was invited to color a Hawaiian flower in honor of Sr. Chris in the Advising or Residence Life centers. A prayer wall created inside the doors to McLean Chapel became a place to share hand-scrawled thoughts, drawings, and prized memories, such as the following:
“Sr. Chris, I remember you sharing a story how as a young woman you had a red Camaro that you loved to drive fast. <3 This is how I will remember you. Such a force of life and one that shared her joy with everyone. <3 <3 <3”
As expressed by the Alumni Association in social media posts announcing the new
Sr. Chris Patrinos Scholarship, which will give preference to students of Asian/Pacific Islander descent:
“We're overwhelmed by all your love for Sister Chris ... Thank you for the many ways you've shown your support, from attending Sister's memorial service to keeping her loved ones in your prayers.”
In keeping with her abiding connection to her Hawaiian culture, those attending a May 22 Mass of Resurrection at St. Felicitas Church in San Leandro were invited to wear Island-inspired attire. Her burial was held at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Hayward, California.
“She is now in a better place,” Sr. Carol said. “Let us thank God for her life as we reach out to one another now in consolation.” She said a special memorial mass on campus is under discussion for the fall.
Gifts in memory of Sr. Chris may be made online to the HNU Sr. Chris Patrinos Scholarship.