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Sister Of Christian Charity, Who Grew Up In Rockaway, To Throw Out First Pitch At Yankee Game June 9
Cecile Pagliarulo

THE BRONX, N.Y. Imagine one day standing on the same mound as some of the greatest New York Yankees pitchers of all time such as Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry and Mariano Rivera. For Sister of Christian Charity Patrice Owens, soon she can say she stood where those greats once stood as she throws out the first pitch June 9 at Yankee Stadium here during the Bronx Bombers game versus the Baltimore Orioles.

“Yes, a kid from Rockaway is throwing out the first pitch. I am more than delighted to be able to stand where those Yankee greats stood on the mound. It will be a big thrill,” she said. Sister Patrice, who is principal at Immaculate Conception School here, grew up in Rockaway attending St. Cecilia’s School in Rockaway (now Divine Mercy Academy) from second grade when the school first opened in 1958 until she graduated in 1965.

During those childhood years, she fondly remembers her father, who was a devoted fan of the 27-time World Series champions and she grew up watching the games with him. In her neighborhood, all the children played baseball out in the street and they were all Yankee fans.

Those happy memories have led to a lifelong devotion to one of the most celebrated teams in professional sports team history and her love for the team followed with her in her vocation.

At Immaculate Conception School, Sister Patrice said, “The kids know I am a Yankee fanatic and when they visit my office they see my Yankee museum with pictures and artifacts of the Yankees. My favorite is a picture of some of my students and myself with Derek Jeter on the field at Yankee Stadium. The students were honored before a game the year Jeter got his 3,000 hits and I challenged the students in the school to collectively read 3,000 books that year. They surpassed that goal and read over 4,000. The students who read the most books from each class were honored on the field with Derek Jeter. You can imagine how excited they were and how excited I was.”

Every December, the school also participates in the food drive sponsored by the New York Yankees. The students collect cans of food and bring them over to the stadium in exchange for vouchers, which the school uses to take its honor, roll students to Yankee games in the spring. Because Yankee Stadium is practically in the shadows of the school, Sister Patrice and the staff walk to the games with the students and they cheer for their team from the bleacher seats.

Unlike her students, who have gone to games in their youth, Sister Patrice’s first game was when she was first stationed at Immaculate Conception, “We did not come into the city at all when I was growing up,” she said.

Even more important than her love for the Yankees is the love she has for her vocation as a religious sister for the past 45 years. During her years in Rockaway, she was taught by the Sisters of Christian Charity and she always admired how dedicated the sisters were to the children. “I wanted to follow in the footsteps of some of my fondest teachers, Sister Carmelita and Sister Maria Assumpta. They inspired me to enter the high school (the former Immaculata High School) at their Motherhouse in Mendham to see if I would be interested in joining them. The rest is history as they say. I was hooked,” said Sister Patrice.

Before serving as principal at Immaculate High School, where she has been for the past 17 years, Sister Patrice was principal at St. Mary School in Hackettstown for eight years and at Holy Family School in Florham Park for four years from 1996 to 2000 until moving to the Bronx. In total she has taught for 12 years and has been a principal for 31 years, at two schools in Pennsylvania, 12 schools in New Jersey and 17 schools in New York.

As she practices her fastball before her big debut at Yankee Stadium tomorrow, she is grateful for the opportunity given to her by the Inner City Scholarship Fund, which will benefit from a donation from the Yankees and their fan base. The game will also raise awareness of the fund, which helps inner city children attend Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York, including those students at Immaculate Conception School.
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