Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 26, 2007
Doris Patsula planted a garden full of daisies
At age 100, she looks with pride to a family that has kept the faith
By BILL GLEN
"If my children needed anything
Doris (n. Dubord) Patsula was born March 18, 1907 in Duck Lake, Sask. She was the eldest of 11 children. Her father was born in Quebec; her mother was from Minnesota. However, her Acadian roots went back to the 1600s in Nova Scotia.
She married Frank Patsula on July 15, 1929, in Moose Jaw. He was a sheet metal worker who worked hard to support his young and expanding family.
The Patsulas were determined their children would receive a Catholic education. But it became increasingly difficult as the older ones approached high school age when they would have to pay a monthly fee.
The Patsulas knew a Redemptorist priest in Moose Jaw who visited every week to play bridge. One day, a priest from Edmonton joined them.
Frank Patsula said he liked Moose Jaw, but with so many children, he would have one entering high school almost every year. To continue Catholic education would cost significantly.
"We both felt that was the time children needed to keep their faith," Doris said. "They will make good friends, but maybe not Catholics. Frank said we would lose them."
The visiting priest told them about separate Catholic schools in Edmonton. Frank said he would need a job. The priest arranged that too.
Inside of a week, the priest told Frank to come out for a visit. It was July 1944 and a decision had to be made before school started in September.
Frank took a train out and quickly found a home for rent beside Sacred Heart Church. A job was offered, as promised.
With eight children in tow, Doris boarded a train that August. "We lived beside Sacred Heart Church and Immaculate Conception (French) was in front. And the school (to Grade 9) was on the corner. It was perfect," she said.
Msgr. Patsula was the second born. He recalls the train ride.
"I had just turned 13. I remember the conductor really looked after us. Here was mom with eight children and the youngest (Lucille) had just begun to walk," he said.
Patsula said saying the family rosary was always a blessed event.
"We have been a very fortunate family. Mom went to early Mass on Sunday and then we had a family breakfast. We always had our meals together."
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Young and old lit more than 100 candles at Doris Patsula's 100th birthday party
Doris rises about 3 a.m. every day. She usually spends the next two hours in prayer and reflection before watching Mass at 6 a.m. on VisionTV. She watches CBC (French) on Sundays to catch its Mass broadcasts.
She uses a walker in the house, but away from home she needs a wheelchair.
"We never went out in the evening until we said the rosary after supper," she said. "It was important because Our Lady always helped us."
Elaine Patsula is a member of the Sisters for Christian Community. She is also a Grade 1 teacher at St. Justine Elementary School.
"Both mom and dad really valued the Church and they gave that to us. Holidays and family activities all revolved around the Church," she said.
Among her siblings are former Catholic school trustee Ron Patsula and retired architect John Patsula, who designed St. Andrew's Centre.
"My brothers were altar boys and the sisters and priests were connected to the family," said Elaine, the youngest child.
"Francis (Jr.) was really influenced by the priests so he entered the seminary. It all adds up to valuing a life of service."
Elaine says each of her siblings is spiritual in his or her own way.
"We have a value that we know there is a God. With that, there is a responsibility."
Doris has spent her life for her children, Elaine said. With her in-laws, she never meddled, but always provided support.
Doris and Elaine have lived together for a number of years. Elaine continually brings home 12 to 15 books every two weeks for her mother to read. She buys the dozens of birthday and anniversary cards that her mother joyfully fills out and sends to her family.
"That's how she has been all her life. She is the core of this family. She has been the one who has maintained our closeness all these years."
Lucille Jamieson says it was nothing for her parents to invite 20 people over for dinner.
"I will always remember their hospitality," said Lucille.
"I mean, who invites 12 people (the Patsulas) for dinner? But it was nothing for her to cook for 20 to 22 people. Those were difficult times, but that didn't matter too much."
Doris was grateful for all that was done by her family to mark her milestone. Yet, she had one regret. "Frank died soon after our 50th wedding anniversary. I wish he had been here to see it too," she said.
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