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Pat Reed, a fixture at Precious Blood Church in Culpeper

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Religious education students at Precious Blood Church in Culpeper from the past three decades have had the same assistant religious education director — Pat Reed.

Sometimes she’ll see the graduates out and about.

“They hug you and say, ‘I remember you from CCD,’” she said. “It’s wonderful having them receive their faith.”

Reed tells her students, as hard as it is out on the streets, if you “have God in your pocket” you are going to be okay. “They need to understand they need this faith,” she said. “This is what will get them through life — the Catholic faith. I tell them, ‘Always put God as number one, and you are nothing without God.’"

Reed, the oldest of nine children from Kentucky and Catholic-educated from grade school through college, started working at Precious Blood in 1986 and has worked under four directors of religious education during that time.

There’s something about the students that keeps Reed at Precious Blood.

“Every time I say I’m not coming back, all of a sudden something tells me I have to come back to the children,” she said. “I want them all to have the best religion, the best teaching.”

Reed said she has an affinity for the Spanish-speaking students.

“I have seen the Spanish community almost triple,” she said. “I have a special feeling for them because I want them to have a fair shake; sometimes they are neglected or ignored. (I) take some time and just listen to them talk, listen to what they need.”

Reed worked as an administrative assistant at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville for 37 years before retiring in 2015.

“My heart was UVA and the CCD office,” she said.

She moved to Culpeper with her daughter, Felicia, in the 1970s after a divorce. She struggled to find work and provide food for her family. She also raised two other children. Reed said it was difficult for her daughter.

“Felicia had been my rock when I first went to UVA,” she said. “She could take care of the kids I raised and check in quite often during the day.” 

Reed took the bus to Charlottesville, 47 miles each way, until she discovered some people that went to Charlottesville from Culpeper and caught rides with them. “It made for a long day,” she said.  “I did this until 1987 when I finally got my driver's license because the Greyhound stopped the service from Culpeper to Charlottesville.”

Reed did the payroll for more than 100 employees; supervised seven health unit coordinators; did the scheduling for the secretaries and patient care assistants.

“When they announced bad weather, I would pack my bag, get a cot for my office and stay there until the weather was drivable,” she said. “I had two units at one time and if one of my secretaries couldn't make it in, I was there and I covered for them.”

When Reed is challenged in her faith, she turns to prayer, serious talks with God and the Bible.

In her spare time, Reed reads, cleans her house or sits outside looking at all of God’s creation. “My family will tell you I’m in the office more than I am at home,” she said.

“All my faith is in God. I don't have a degree in theology, I am not a master catechist,” she said. “I read my Bible and other religious books. I am just a simple person who had nothing years ago, but with the grace of God and my faith, I don't have a lot now, but I make it and I am happy.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018