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Parishioners remember Father Pat

St. Catherine pastor died suddenly last week

By Laura Bollin

Parishioners at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Oak Lawn remember their late pastor as a friendly man who was always willing to listen.

Father Patrick Henry died suddenly March 11 at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He was 61.

Oak Lawn resident Carol Sheahan, who has been a parishioner at St. Catherine for 30 years, was “very close” to Henry, or Father Pat as he was known to parishioners, she said. Father Pat would always make time to greet people after Mass and listen to them, she added. The pastor had served at the church since July 2002.

“He was supposed to serve 9 p.m. Mass with me [the night he died],” Sheahan said. “I’m a lector, and I found out he’d been taken to the hospital, which was a shock.

“He always had a smile on his face. He has a good spirit. He saw the best in everyone, and he would bring that out in you.”

St. Catherine parishioner Bill Coughlin first met Father Pat when the latter served as a priest at St. Christina Church in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood. Henry served at St. Christina for three years before coming to St. Catherine.

“If he was introduced to you for the first time, he knew your name for life,” Coughlin said. “He was friendly. He would make a point to call you by your name when he saw you and ask how your day was going.”

Coughlin said Henry was always going out of his way to help people, even if he didn’t know them well.

“We have an annual golf outing at St. Catherine, and one golfer asked Father Pat to say a prayer for his mother-in-law, who wasn’t doing too well,” Coughlin recalled. “He asked what her name was, what hospital she was at, and where her parish was. The golfer told her his mother-in-law wasn’t Catholic, and he said it didn’t make any difference. On the way home from the golf outing, he went to the hospital to say a few prayers by her bedside – and it was someone he didn’t know.”

Coughlin and Henry would meet up with a group of other men from the parish every Saturday for a Saturday night supper club.

“We would get together for a pizza and a Coke and watch a video or the Blackhawks or Sox game,” Coughlin said. “When we would go out to dinner, there wasn’t a place on the South Side that somebody didn’t come up to our table and ask Father Pat how he was doing.”

Coughlin and Henry would meet for coffee three times a week to talk about their faith and what was going on in their lives.

“He was the type of guy where’d he call and say, I’ve picked up five hot dogs, and I’m on my way to your house for lunch,” Coughlin said. “He’d just bring food for anyone in the house. He was very down-to-earth.”

Henry was a role model for a lot of people, and lived his life according to the Bible’s teachings, Coughlin said.

“Everyone that met him loved him,” Coughlin said. “He was the type of guy that you would want your son to turn into.”