Sister Pamela Quade
Quietly Serving Others
Sister Mary Pamela (Margaret) Quade was born in Clare, Iowa, the 10th of 11 children (all still living). During her elementary years, she was taught by the Sisters of the Presentation. She finished high school in 1964 at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and then she made her way across the state to Dubuque, to become a member of the Presentation community.
In her early years, Sister Pamela graduated from Clarke College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, which was fortuitous in that this major is valuable to her in her present ministry as a lobby receptionist at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, where she is alert to the needs of various races and classes of people who come to her desk. Sister’s primary responsibility is to welcome people to the hospital and give them information they request of her. “There are new questions asked every day so I am always learning something new, and no two days are the same. I like that variety,” Sister Pamela comments. “I work with a wonderful group of people and I enjoy meeting new people who walk through the clinic doors.”
But more importantly, Sister Pamela often assists with visitors who are saddened by the grave illness of a family member or close friend, so, as a woman religious, she can offer them support with her welcoming presence and a listening ear. Sister also volunteers time as a visitor to the oncology unit of the hospital, where there are often people without family near, or who are in distress because of the nature of their illness. In addition, she volunteers weekly as a receptionist at Mercy Hospice in Johnston, Iowa. Sister Pamela is trained as a Hospice volunteer, and has served in that capacity for two years, so she is well-equipped for understanding the needs of families who come to visit loved ones at the Hospice Center and of those patients she visits in their home.
Sister Pamela has also served in a variety of other ministries over the years. She began her professional life as a primary teacher in Charles City, Iowa, then at St. Columbkille School in Dubuque. She also taught in Cedar Falls at St. Patrick School and at St. Pius School in Des Moines, both in Iowa.
While she was back in Dubuque teaching at St. Columbkille, Sister Pamela used her summers to earn a master’s degree in elementary education, again from Clarke. With that degree completed, she became the principal of St. Patrick School in Sheldon, Iowa, and later of St. Joseph School in Key West, Iowa.
Sister Pamela also ministered at the House of Mercy in Des Moines, which offered transitional housing for those without a home.
In 1990, Sister Pamela changed ministry gears completely, spending 18 years at the Presentation motherhouse as an associate in the finance office. Because so much of this work involved insurance and doctor’s bills, she obtained education as a medical billing and coding specialist.
Spending novitiate years with Sister Pamela and continuing their relationship throughout the years, Sisters Joy Peterson and Elena Hoye shared qualities which they have appreciated in Sister Pamela. They spoke of her as a person who lives simply, who is very kind to people, especially to those in need, giving them a sense of peace as she listens to them and ministers to them.
When Sister Pamela was at Mount Loretto recently, she commented to Sister Elena, that “one of ‘my women’ (to whom she ministered as a Hospice volunteer) died today.”
Sister Elena remarked how characteristic that was of Sister Pamela: “It wasn’t just that ‘a’ woman died, but that Sister Pamela had a personal investment in this woman as she had listened to her and consoled her through Hospice ministry. She gives peace to people and offers them a real presence, often just by sitting quietly with the sick,” Sister Elena observed. “She has a very quiet manner of serving others.”
Sister Pamela commented that, on the lighter side, she enjoys reading, golfing and visiting with family and friends. But she makes her spiritual life central. Her friends described her as very faithful to prayer. One could not go wrong in concluding that it is this aspect which keeps Sister Pamela grounded, open to helping others in the manner of Jesus who “went about doing good,” and faithful to the charism of Presentation foundress as she consistently offers hospitality to varied groups of people.
Left Photo: Sister Pamela Quade's welcoming face is one of the first faces visitors encounter at Mercy Medical Center in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Right Photo: Sister Pamela Quade assists a lost visitor with directions to the other Mercy clinic.