Help Us To Keep On Keeping On – Dr Patricia Heywood

help us to keep on keeping on…

Dr Patricia Heywood, whose almost six decades in the Australian Pallottine Family included a term as inaugural Executive Officer of the UAC, died recently in Melbourne. Pat, as she was known in her many roles, was active in the UAC from her introduction to the charism of St Vincent Pallotti in the 1950s (!) until her death, from cancer, on 16 July.

Pat Heywood was one of many Australians who spent decades serving the UAC – before that acronym was recognised – after her introduction to Pallottine spirituality through apostolic groups that flourished in Melbourne in the 1950s and 1960s, fostered by priests such as Fr Walter Silvester sac.

In her last decade of life she instigated a free annual public lecture, named in honour of Fr Walter and held in conjunction with Australian Catholic University (ACU). This has developed since 2007 and attracted lecturers including Archbishop Mark Coleridge, then of Canberra-Goulburn; Dr Donna Orsuto, co-founder and Director of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome and Professor at the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Gregorian University; former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Tim Fischer; and Fr Frank Donio sac, Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington DC. This year’s event will include a tribute to her.

The establishment of this lecture, designed to make Pallottine spirituality more widely known in the Church, illustrated several of Pat’s qualities – inspiration, perseverance, a desire to educate and a keen sense of collaboration with others. She sought advice from Melbourne’s Office for Evangelisation, whose Helder Camara Lecture Series on Social Justice have been a well-established feature of life in the local church for almost 30 years and worked hard to make her own project a fixture in the Melbourne Catholic calendar.

The Walter Silvester Memorial Lecture was only one of Pat’s UAC apostolates. She was also a key figure in the St Vincent Pallotti Scholarship for Lay Ministry, which offers financial and prayerful support to people wishing to study or work in this area; the development of a formation program in the Australian SAC/UAC context; the establishment of a spirituality team; and Remember in November, an initiative to gather people, many of them with a long association with the Pallottines, in the month of the Holy Souls to pray for those who have died. It is centred on a celebration of the Eucharist, at which is featured a book recording those who have passed away.

Following a Catholic primary and secondary education she completed a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education at Melbourne University and a Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Monash University. She majored in English and History, with theses on The Nature of Religious Belief and Its Bearing on Education in 1975 and Elementary Education in Port Phillip, 1836-1851, the latter exploring early schooling in the earliest days of colonial Melbourne. She then went on to teach at a girl’s school, followed by many years forming prospective teachers at Mercy College. As was noted in the days after her passing: “She was a born teacher … She had a desire and also the ability to transmit the message she wanted to.”

While her life was spent in Melbourne and its surrounds, she was a keen traveller, with a special affection for Japan. In recent years, she visited the Holy Land and also travelled widely within Australia.

Pat asked that there be no eulogy at her funeral Mass. Instead her last contribution to the Pallottine Family Newsletter was read, in which she recalled an advertisement for a paint company that used the slogan: “Keeps on keeping on”.

“According to Christians, each person’s basic design and materials are God-given, but maintenance and improvement are collaborative,” Pat wrote. “In our lives then, it’s good to check with the Maker and plan together for the future. What area(s) of my life need attention? Is there a special ‘colour’ I’m being asked to use?” She concluded with a prayer:

Lord of our lives, help us to keep on keeping on.

Thank you for different coloured blessings you give.

Grant us a share in Your faithfulness of love

That we too may renew the world

With all our sisters and brothers

Each day, every day praising and

Blessing, seeking and finding,

On and on.

Mark Brolly – Melbourne – AUSTRALIA