Campus Minister Discovered Religious Life through Service
Sr. Patricia Evanick, D.C. ’97GEd, who serves as Campus Minister for Faith Formation and Leadership on St. John’s University’s Queens, NY, campus, recently reflected on how she came to truly know God through caring for others.
“I always felt alive doing service,” she said.
Sr. Evanick was active in service from an early age, especially during her college years at Neumann University in Easton, PA. “That was when I began thinking I was called to this life—through the work.”
Ironically, this Philadelphia, PA, area native was not exposed to the Daughters of Charity during her youth. “I mostly knew the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia,” she noted.
While she loved both orders, she never felt called to them. “I met the Daughters in college, and I was drawn to their simplicity. I knew I could do the work. There was something deep in my heart that said, ‘This is the kind of life you need.’”
Sr. Evanick entered the Daughters in 1989. “Since then, I have grown in my faith and in my love for God through my vow of service. When students ask me my story, I tell them I really came to know God through that love of helping others.”
Her first assignments were as a first-grade teacher at the former Holy Rosary School in Brooklyn, NY, and as Director of Religious Education at St. John the Baptist Parish in Brooklyn. From there, she helped establish the St. Vincent de Paul Young Adult Center in Germantown, PA.
During that time, Sr. Evanick earned her master’s degree at St. John’s. “Obviously, I was exposed to the University as a graduate student, but I really got to know St. John’s from the students and faculty who visited Germantown and the Vincentians I worked with there,” she explained. “I just felt a connection to the people from St. John’s, and when a position opened up in Campus Ministry in 2014, it was the will of God at work.”
Sr. Evanick said one of the things she loves most about St. John’s is the connectedness she feels to the entire community and the sense of commitment people have to their faith and to each other. Her responsibilities include working with employees in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) program, as well as being involved with the Vincentian Initiative to Advance Leadership, the Catholic Scholars program, service plunges, and the University’s chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In the R.C.I.A. program, Sr. Evanick welcomes the opportunity to get to know people on a different level as she shares in their faith journeys. “It is very personal,” she said. “I am constantly amazed at how much people yearn for this their entire life, no matter how successful they may be professionally. It is just a wonderful experience. It is very humbling, and a beautiful way to get in touch with how God works through each person.”
Sr. Evanick is especially connected to the faith community at St. John’s during its many communal experiences, such as Masses, lectures, service opportunities, or holiday celebrations. “It feels like you are in your living room with a bunch of friends.”
She is also heartened when people visit Campus Ministry to donate clothes, food, or money. “Professors, deans, and folks from all over the University support our programs. It is a side of our community not everyone sees—but I get to witness this blessing.”