Patty Crowley ’36, Trinity Woman Extraordinaire
TO: The Trinity Community
FR: President Patricia McGuire
RE: Remembering Patty Crowley ‘36
I just learned this evening about the death of Patty Crowley, Class of 1936, in late November. She was such an extraordinary woman, such a remarkable example of the values that Trinity holds dear, that I feel her story is important to share with all students, faculty and staff. Please read the account of her life from this week’s National Catholic Reporter, and Tom Roberts’ editorial about her.
Patty and her husband Pat founded the Christian Family Life Movement, and they and their children truly took the Gospel to heart in their daily lives. Social justice for them was a way of life, not just a theory. Even into her 90’s, Patty continued to live with great conviction and robust spirit.
As you will learn from reading these and other accounts of her life (Google “Patty Crowley” and you will find hundreds of references, including the Chicago Tribune’s condolence book that goes on for six pages of tributes to her), Patty’s devotion to her faith did not spare her from criticism. But she was not afraid of her critics, because she allowed her faith to guide her each day.
Patty was proud of Trinity, and she gladly hosted Chicago alumnae parties in her home. In the early 1990’s, she eagerly accepted our invitation to speak here on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical on birth control, since she and her husband were invited to participate on the papal commission that examined the Church’s policy in the 1960’s. Like many on the commission, including bishops and theologians, she was disappointed that Pope Paul VI rejected the commission’s advice to change the policy. She was not shy about stating her disagreement, but always did so respectfully. After her visit, some people told me that because she disagreed with the Church’s teaching, we should not have allowed her to speak. But her disagreement was not at all harsh, simply the expression of someone with a large view of human life and families, and a lifelong devotion to finding ways to live the Gospel fruitfully.
I later visited with her in her apartment high above Lake Michigan in Chicago, and she spoke movingly of her work with families, the poor, those in prison, the cause of peace. She expressed puzzlement at the harshness of some of her critics. But they did not diminish in any way her commitment to doing what she thought was right. She was a slight person, so gentle and quiet; but her voice was powerful.
Her daughter, Benedictine Sister Patsy Crowley, continues her work in the women’s shelter Deborah’s Place that they founded in Chicago, and in other social justice work.
Please join me in remembering the life of Patty Crowley and offering prayers of thanksgiving for her lifelong good works, and condolences to her family.