Five minutes with… Tumut Catechist, Pat Spannagle

Tumut Catechist, Pat Spannagle.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Pat Spannagle. I am a retired Catholic Principal and REC. I had been teaching in Catholic schools for 39 years. When I retired I thought that was the end of my teaching. However, in my parish there was a need for catechists.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading as much as I can, the policies of the major parties, as we head into the next 3 years of government. I am also reading ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta Nehisi Coates.

Why did you become a Catechist?

I became a catechist because the need was great. There are still only 2 Catholic catechists in Tumut. And I felt guilty (after the Sunday gospel of the talents), because I was not using my talents. I also believe that it is vitally important for children to receive a spiritual and religious dimension as part of their education for their optimum development.

Describe an amazing moment/time during your catechist ministry.

There are always ‘amazing moments’ with children. One of my favourites was talking about Prayer to my Year 4 students. One child asked, “why do we join our hands when we pray”.

Silence for a bit then another child answered, “Because we want our prayers to go up to God.”  I still remember this when I join my hands to pray.

Why are catechists amazing?

All catechists are amazing. They come every week rain, hail or shine to tell children of the love of God and the stories of Jesus which inspire. Their rewards are never tangible. They can go for years and years and not ever know if any of what they have taught has been remembered.

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They believe that some day,  some where, some child, now grown to adulthood will remember some word or prayer that may help them in a difficult time. And also, that there is a loving God who will always love them no matter what.

Times are tough in the Catholic Church at the moment. What keeps you going?

The children themselves keep me going. They are our future. They have a positive view of the world and their place in it. It is usual to find some gift or talent to build them up when they need extra confidence. There also seems to be a willingness and an understanding that to care for their families and friends is important.

There is a real interest and curiosity about learning about Jesus. I realise I am fortunate to have a class group such as these Year 3 and Year 4 students. I am truly blessed. They give me far more than I can ever give them, as I am constantly learning from them.

Tell us about you and Jesus?

Jesus and I are friends but at times I feel distanced from Him. I see Jesus in the good people around me.  I feel close to God when I experience the beauty of nature.


Wordpress (12)
  • Mick O'Donnell 4 years

    May our gracious Lord continue to bless and uplift you, Pat. Thank you for sharing your life journey and aspirations to date … We’re sure God has not finished with you yet. We still remember the great days at Adelong/Batlow in the early 90s with John Bourke and so many others. With every best wish, Deacon Mick (Roger) & Cora O’Donnell 0423798737

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Thank you Roger. I did not know who you were till you put Roger and Cora in brackets.
      It was great to hear from you. They were great days. Occasionally I miss them, though not all the paper work! Mostly I miss the children so it is wonderful that I can still have some time with children.

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Thank you Roger,
      Well what a ‘blast from the past.’ Luckily you included Roger and Cora, otherwise I would have had no idea at all who it was. They were great days in Adelong and Batlow. I do miss them but do NOT miss all the paper work. Mostly I miss the children, so I am very fortunate to still have children time at Scripture lessons.

  • Tricia Johnson 4 years

    Great to read about you Pat. I was Sr. Petrea and taught with you in Tumut just for three months in 1978. I have changed my name back to my Christian name: Patricia Johnson known as Tricia. What I remember about those days in Tumut is how good the staff members were to me. Have a warm feeling when I think of you all. I now live in Griffith. There is another Sister living here, too. I am working mainly with multi cultural women, teaching English, arranging activities, and with refugees. Good to hear about you after all these years. Every blessing, Tricia

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Well what a lovely surprise to hear from you after all this time.
      Do you know I always thought you were with us for a couple of years.
      You must have had a huge impact on us. We did have fun didn’t we?
      It sounds as though you are doing good work in Griffith. Your work with refugees is so important. And you would be perfect for that role. I bet you have the ladies laughing and chatting. Great to hear from you.

      Love Pat

  • Loretta Corrigan 4 years

    Well said Pat. You have a special gift to communicate Jesus love for us.  Loretta 

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Thank You Loretta. I especially appreciate those words coming from you.
      I have admired your work over the years, especially your work in the gaol, which I thought was your special gift in your acceptance of each prisoner as a person to respect and to be listened to. Hope we can see you soon.

      Love Pat

  • Bede 4 years

    Love you Mum, you’re the best.!! 🙂

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Thanks Bede. You’re pretty amazing yourself, especially your ongoing work in Nepal.

      Love Mum

  • Anna Quinn 4 years

    Lovely interview Pat – a pleasure to read – and also a beautiful photo.
    Regards Anna

    • Patricia SPANNAGLE 4 years

      Thanks Anna.
      I thought it was going to be one in a group of replies, one from each region of the Archdiocese. And, that the photo would be postage stamp size. Big surprise!
      Glad you read it. Not many do read the Catholic Voice.

      Love Pat

  • Robyn Hogan 4 years

    Lovely interview,Pat. You epitomize what it is to be a loving and genuine christian! We are blessed to know you!