Dr Patricia Sabina Crosby was invested as a Dame of the Pontifical Order of Pope St Sylvester, by Archbishop Bernard Longley, during a memorable special Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, on Sunday 9 October.
Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Chairman of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Lourdes Pilgrimage Committee, and Bishop Philip Pargeter, retired Auxiliary, concelebrated the Mass with the Archbishop of Birmingham and more than 20 priests.
Relatives, friends, colleagues, and pilgrims, past and present packed the Cathedral for the Mass on the Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on Sunday 19 September 2010.
Among them were parishioners from Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Dr Patricia Crosby’s home, together with the Parish Priest, Fr Philip Harrop.
At the start of Mass Archbishop Bernard Longley warmly welcomed Dr Patricia Crosby and her guests on behalf of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Lourdes Association.
After the homily, Dr Patricia Crosby, Dame-elect, was escorted by her two sponsors, Dr Tony Cole, KCSG, and Tony Flanagan KSG, to the foot of the sanctuary steps where she was greeted by Archbishop Bernard Longley, delegated by Pope Benedict XVI to invest her with the Insignia of the Order of Pope St Sylvester.
The Archbishop of Birmingham said: “The Pontifical Order of St Sylvester is the oldest of the Papal Orders, and it is conferred on lay faithful of proved loyalty in recognition of services to the Holy See and the Church as exemplified in the exercise of their professional duties.”
Archbishop Longley continued: “Dr Pat, the Papal Brief which creates you a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester reads as follows. The Papal Brief was read: “Benedict XVI Supreme Pontiff, gladly acceding to a request made to Us from which We have gathered that you are most deserving for what you have done for the Holy Catholic Church and its affairs, and in order that We might give a clear sign of Our pleasure and appreciation, We choose, make and declare you: Patricia Sabina Crosby of the Archdiocese Of Birmingham a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester.
“We bestow on you the right to use and enjoy all the privileges which go with this high dignity.” Signed and Sealed by the Cardinal Secretary of State: Cardinal Bertone.
Archbishop Bernard Longley then said: “In the name of the Holy Father I herewith invest you with the insignia of a Dame of the Pontifical Order of St Sylvester and I present to you the Papal Brief.
Dr Patricia Crosby turned to the congregation and smiled. She was greeted with heart-felt applause.
During his homily on the theme “‘Cor ad Cor Loquitur” – “Heart speaks unto heart”, Gerry Breen, Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral, a long-time friend of Dr Patricia Crosby said: “Today in our diocese we celebrate the Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman. His motto “Cor ad Cor Loquitur” embraces all that we gather to celebrate and thank God for.
“Cor ad Cor Loquitur” calls to mind the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom just over a year ago and the Papal Mass, celebrated not far from here in Cofton Park when John Henry Newman, a priest of this diocese, was declared Blessed.
Then, as last year, members of our Lourdes Hospitalité were involved in organising and providing medical care for pilgrims. Dr Pat was very much at the centre of things on both those wonderful occasions. As we know, Pat is not one to be found on the periphery!
In his homily for the Mass of Beatification Pope Benedict said in reference to Cardinal Newman’s motto: “Heart speaks unto heart gives us an insight into John Henry’s understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God.”
Canon Breen continued: “Now, to young Patricia Sabina Crosby and how she responded to her invitation. I managed to get hold of a copy of Pat’s C.V. and you will be interested, though not surprised to learn that she listed her hobbies as Music, Art, and Talking – or does it say Walking? Surprisingly enough there is no mention of her interest in fashion!
“Pat was born in Liverpool and raised in Oxton on the Wirral; and we know that when she is in full flight that lovely Liverpool accent comes to the fore. She was a boarder at St Winifred’s Convent, Holy Well in North Wales. Her school reports never said: “Could do better” rather the nuns feared that “nothing will become of this girl!”
“However, her mother had other ideas and a greater insight into the capabilities of her daughter and she decided that Pat should be a doctor. So Pat arrived at Edinburgh University to study medicine. A contemporary at University was a young student called Keith O’Brien, later to become Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh and Cardinal for Scotland.
“In a recent gathering Pat exclaimed with a little faux surprise “how strange it was that most of her male friends were priests and bishops!” I know she is delighted with the presence of so many of her male friends here today – especially her “boys” – our younger clergy.
“Graduating in 1961 Pat served as a House Physician and Surgeon in a number of Edinburgh’s hospitals working in Oncology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She moved into General Practice in New Malden, Kingston-on-Thames, where she nurtured her interest in uniforms as Medical Practitioner to RAF, Chessington, and Medical Officer to Richmond Prison for Young Offenders.
“In 1970 she moved to Nuneaton, intending to stay for just six months; and she’s still there!
“The C.V. continues: A member of the Guild of Catholic Doctors; Chairman, twice, of North Warwickshire B.M.A.; Trustee of the Mary Anne Evans Hospice; founder member of the Lourdes Medical Association in 1974, serving on their Council for 34 years.
“Pat’s involvement as a doctor with the Birmingham Lourdes Pilgrimage began in 1972; and, thankfully, that has become a major part of her life ever since.
“So, what is it that fills our hearts? We know of two things that fill Pat’s heart. First, it is her firm conviction of the intervention of Our Lady of Lourdes in her life. She has never failed you Pat or any of us when we have sought her intercession. Secondly, and more importantly, it is Pat’s love and devotion to the Mass which continues to nourish her vocation to be the caring and compassionate woman we know and love.”
Canon Gerry Breen concluded: “Dear Pat, for your acceptance of that invitation to intimate communion and for how that cor ad cor has found expression in your professional life of service to the Church and others, it is fitting that the Holy Father recognises this and confers on you the high dignity of a Dame of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.”
A most enjoyable wine and canapés reception followed in the Grimshaw Room after Mass.
Mrs Trish Brookes, Pilgrimage Director of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Lourdes Pilgrimage Committee, who has known Dr Patricia Crosby since 1999 when she first became involved with the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage, said: “At the time Dr Pat Crosby was the Chief Medical Officer having served for many years as a pilgrimage doctor with the medical team. Her current role is that of Medical Director and it is impossible to estimate the amount of time she dedicates to this important task.”
Mrs Brookes emphasised: “Dr Pat works tirelessly to ensure that the sick and disabled pilgrims who travel to Lourdes with us receive the best possible care and support, and she is respected by everyone involved; helpers and pilgrims alike.
“Dr Pat is strong, professional, accomplished, inspirational and persuasive. She has a warm and generous personality, a fantastic sense of humour and a wonderful laugh. It is a great pleasure to know her and to call her a friend.”
Trish Brookes added: “Dr Pat was overwhelmed when she discovered that she was to receive this award, but I think we all agree that she is a truly fitting recipient, and a credit to the Archdiocese of Birmingham and to all who know and love her.”