Patricia Monahan - Author of "To Thee We Do Cry" and "Love Never Ends"

Patricia Monahan - Author of "To Thee We Do Cry" and "Love Never Ends"

Patricia Monahan - Author of "To Thee We Do Cry" and "Love Never Ends"Patricia Monahan - Author of "To Thee We Do Cry" and "Love Never Ends"Patricia Monahan - Author of "To Thee We Do Cry" and "Love Never Ends"

About Patricia Monahan


Patricia Monahan and her husband Tom have seven children and nineteen grandchildren. Pat was a Girl Scout Leader, a Den Mother, and a Babe Ruth Baseball Team Mother and actively involved in all church and school activities until she began a career. She retired after twenty-seven years as a New York State Certified Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselor. She volunteered for eight years at a homeless women’s shelter. Trained by the Archdiocese of New York as Bereavement Minister she co-founded the Bereavement Ministry at St. Joseph-St Thomas Parish on Staten Island, NY in January 2000. 

On December 17, 2007 Pat’s nine year old grandson, Tommy perished trying to save his dog Sophie from their house fire. The world she had known ended abruptly. She wrote To Thee We Do Cry as her way to reach others whose faith may have been shattered following the loss of a loved one as well as her way of keeping Tommy’s memory alive.

Learn about my journey

Woman of Achievment

April 2018 Staten Island Advance article about Patricia


By Claire M. Regan | For the Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The call came about 11 p.m., startling her from sleep.

Her son's house, a half-mile away in Prince's Bay, was on fire.

"I jumped out of bed and started praying to the Blessed Mother," remembers Patricia Monahan. Her mind was so paralyzed with fear, she couldn't remember the words to the "Hail Mary."

She and her husband sped along Amboy Road to 49 Princewood Ave., her childhood home, where Thomas and Maria Monahan lived with their four children. Firefighters told them everyone in the family was OK - except 9-year-old Tommy who had been overcome by smoke and flames when he tried to rescue his pets.

As doctors worked to keep the unconscious boy alive in the emergency room at Staten Island University Hospital South, Pat launched into action. Her years as a bereavement counselor guiding hundreds through loss and sorrow were suddenly relevant in a tragically personal way.

She kissed Tommy on the forehead and wiped the soot from his nose and mouth. His skin was scorched, but it looked like a sunburn, she vividly recalls.

"You can't see us but know that we're here," she whispered in his ear. "We're never going to leave you. Work with the doctors and stay peaceful, stay calm."

She also comforted her son, Tommy's father, as he cried out when he saw his son on the gurney.

Tommy died a few hours later, in the early morning of Dec. 17, 2007, and his grieving family took refuge at Pat's house on Utica Street.

With a soothing and steady demeanor rooted in a deep faith and a lifelong devotion to helping those in pain, Pat guided her family through the grieving process as she has done for nearly 20 years as a volunteer at St. Joseph-St. Thomas-St. John Neumann R.C. Church in her neighborhood.

This time, she had to cope with her own grief as well.

"I found myself experiencing the same symptoms I taught others about," Pat confided in "To Thee We Do Cry: A Grandmother's Journey Through Grief," the book she wrote the year after her grandson's death. "I had a hole in my stomach, a physical pain in my heart, and at times uncontrollable tears."


At her Pleasant Plains parish, Pat offers an eight-week series of lessons on grief recovery and leads a monthly bereavement support group.

Her work is based at the church, but many of the people she helps come from far outside its boundaries. She often makes house visits.

Pat has gently introduced herself to grieving families by attending wakes within her parish. She hands out literature about "Helping a Child Grieve and Grow," "The Ten Biggest Myths about Grief" and "Getting through the First Weeks after the Funeral."

A bereavement service and candlelight ceremony she plans each year at her church is attended by more than 300 people of all faiths.

Patricia Dresch met Pat Monahan shortly after her husband and 13-year-old daughter were swept to their deaths in Hurricane Sandy five years ago.

"I had never met her before, and she showed up at my door with a glass angel," Patricia recalls. "We clicked right away."

It took a few months before she felt comfortable enough to join the bereavement group at St. Joseph-St. Thomas. Filled with anger, guilt and grief, she was considering suicide to end her pain.

"I wondered, why did I live? Why did God take them and not me?"

Pat Monahan was by her side through her darkest days, Patricia recalls, offering rides to the group sessions and always just a phone call away.

As a regular member for four years, Patricia Dresch found comfort and healing in the bereavement group and established a lifetime bond with Pat Monahan.

"She's down-to-earth and has such a big heart," she says with gratitude.


Patricia Nisi Monahan was born on March 20, 1940, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, the oldest of six children. Her father, Charles, was active in the Boy Scouts and president of a Japanese shipping company. Her mother, Frances Lillian, was a stay-at-home mom.

The Nisi family moved to Prince's Bay when Pat was 10, and she has lived in the neighborhood ever since. She attended PS 56 in Brooklyn and PS 3 in Pleasant Plains and graduated from Tottenville High School in 1957.

Pat was just 13 when she met her future husband during one of her frequent walks with girlfriends along the Prince's Bay shoreline. She caught the eye of the 16-year-old dock watchman and he caught her off-guard with a flirtatious question.

"Do you have a porch for that swing?"

She gave him a dirty look and kept walking.

Tom Monahan was persistent and courted Pat at Friday night teen dances in nearby St. Mark's United Methodist Church. He shooed away other suitors so he could walk her home, she later learned.

Soon they became a couple, enjoying long walks and long talks on the beach. They were married on April 4, 1959, in Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church with a reception at the former Tavern on the Green in New Dorp.

The newlyweds took an apartment on Stuyvesant Place in St. George while Tom worked on the ferries and Pat worked as a legal stenographer and private secretary for an oil company in Manhattan after finishing studies at the former Drake Business School.

"I hated the job," she recalls. A people person, she knew pushing papers was not her calling.

The Monahans moved to Prince's Bay and Pat left the workforce to raise what would quickly become a family of seven children. The first five were born in quick succession, a year apart.

In 1975, she began working at the South Beach Psychiatric Center in Ocean Breeze, first as a mental health aide and later as a certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASAC).

She is proud of the CASAC training she completed in 1982 at the Rutgers Summer School of Addiction Studies, "a very intense and very useful program."

She scored a 92 on the state licensing exam. "That blew me away," she recalls with pride.

In 1992, she became a certified hypnotherapist to help clients with anxiety, stress and substance abuse, and in 1999, began her bereavement ministry.


Today the Monahan house on Utica Street serves as home base for their seven children and spouses, 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Son Craig, a retired firefighter, added a second story and first-floor extension to the 1920s cozy cottage.

A room off the back porch doubles as an office for Pat's bereavement work, with boxes of pamphlets stored under the table, ready for distribution.

Angels are everywhere in the Monahan home -- on shelves, coffee tables, the kitchen counter, the bathroom vanity. Probably thousands, Pat estimates.

The phone rings non-stop. Tom is a steady helper and companion, Pat acknowledges.

"And he always reminds me how much he loves me," she says. "He'll come up behind me while I'm cooking in the kitchen and ask, 'Have I told you today how much I love you?'"

Pat finds comfort in everyday signs of her grandson's presence. It could be a flickering light, a bird song, a butterfly or a clap of thunder.

"I hear and see you, Tommy," she responds. "I love you, no matter the form you take. You are forever in our hearts and minds."


Birthday: March 20, 1940

Hometown: Prince's Bay since age 10

Family: Husband, Thomas; seven children, Thomas Paul IV, Theresa Lillian Quercia, Kevin Charles, Scott Michael, Russell John, Craig Richard and Melissa Jean Connolly; 19 grandchildren (one lives in heaven); two great-grandchildren; two brothers, Dennis Charles Nisi and Charles (Chuck) Edward Nisi; three sisters, Linda Wolfgram, Kathy Leighton and Roberta (Bobbi) Nisi (lives in heaven).

Favorite vacation destination: Woodloch Pines Resort, Hawley, Pa., especially at Christmastime with the family

Last book read: "13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle," by Joanne Huist Smith

Typical Saturday: Basketball games with the grandchildren

Personal style: Angels, everything angels

Favorite movie: "Dragonfly"

Favorite spot on Staten Island: Tommy's Tree memorial at the Conference House