From salt marshes, to sandy beaches and gorgeous sunrises, Charleston, South Carolina is touted as one of the country’s most beautiful vacation destinations. Last year, readers of Condé Nast Traveler named Charleston the number one city in the U.S.
Yet, in the shadows of Charleston’s tourist attractions, there are areas travelers don’t often frequent. One of them is the city’s East End, where Sister Patricia Rogan educates the poor at Neighborhood House, a place of healing and compassion sponsored by Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach.
By preparing individuals for the GED test (the high school equivalency exam), she strives to empower African-American women to break out of the cycle of poverty through education. “When students pass the GED, their self-esteem improves and their hope of attaining employment becomes a real possibility,” she says.
Sister Patricia served as a teacher and principal for more than 20 years in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She says she is happy to share her gifts with those who need them most. “It’s wonderful to have my teaching skills and to use them directly in working with the very poor,” she says.
Serving people in need with respect and dignity is both a responsibility and a privilege for Sister Patricia. “I try to bring the presence of Christ, the face of mercy and the face of Christ to those whom I serve.”
Sister Patricia, who also serves as a spiritual director and retreat facilitator, makes it a priority to tell others about the needs of the poor at Neighborhood House. As she travels throughout South Carolina to lead retreats, she “tries to make connections so people know about the needs of the poor and what they can do to help them,” she says.
Grateful to God for her life as a Franciscan sister, Sister Patricia says she has been gifted by those she serves. “I see in their eyes not only pain, but the love of God shining through this pain,” she says. “They have taught me gratitude, compassion, love and simplicity.”