Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

Sisters in Ministry May 2011
Sister Pat Lynch: A presence of joy for college students

Sister Pat enjoys the picture board that details many of the events that occur at the Didde Center.

Update: Sister Pat Lynch completed her ministry at Emporia State University in 2016 and began serving in elected Ursuline leadership, first as a councilor and then in November 2016, as assistant congregational leader.

Ursuline Sister Kathleen Condry tends to shy away from events with big crowds, yet Ursuline Sister Pat Lynch can always talk her into going. “Pat is a real people-person,” Sister Kathleen said. “Wherever the people are, that’s where Pat likes to be.”

Sister Pat is a natural introvert, but her ministries through the years taught her to be more extroverted so she could reach out to people. One such role was in campus ministry at the University of Kansas from 1987-94. As her role on the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kan., leadership team was coming to an end in 2009, she was happy to learn of an opening as the office manager/campus minister at the Didde Catholic Campus Center at Emporia State University, in Emporia, Kan.

“I’m probably not the ideal office manager,” Sister Pat said. “I’d rather be sitting and talking to people than ordering supplies.”

The people who interact with her at Didde think she is perfect for the role.

“She’s very welcoming,” said Father Ray May, who has been the chaplain at Didde for seven years. “You need to be welcoming, a person of faith and prayer, able to direct people, and know how to run the office. She’ll talk to students, counsel them.”

Sister Pat was a natural for the job because she’d worked in campus ministry before and had been a superior of her community, Father May said.

“Her enthusiasm for people, her faith, her ability to get things done, and her leadership ability” are just some of the skills she brings to her ministry, he said.

It’s Sister Pat’s concern for the students that most impresses Vickie Hayes-Walworth, who works part time as the financial assistant at Didde.

Sister Pat visits with Sister Bev Carlin, right, the vocations director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, who lives in Manhattan, Kan. Sister Bev was visiting the Didde Catholic Campus Center as one of the leaders for the Busy Bee Retreat in early March.

“Sitting and talking with people is a good trait,” she said. “She listens, she’s very concerned about the students. She’s a good guide for them. She wants them to have a good experience here and during their four years of college.”

During the second weekend of April, students at the center organized an event to raise awareness for the homeless. Sister Pat drove two hours round trip to Topeka, Kan., to get the supplies the students needed, Hayes-Walworth said.

“It’s a joy to come to work, it’s a soothing environment,” she said. “It’s hectic at times, and we get a lot done, but there’s a sense of calm here which you don’t find in the regular business environment.”

Emporia, Kan., is about 90 minutes from Paola, where the Ursulines had their Motherhouse from 1895 until they merged with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in October 2008. Sister Pat decided to remain in Kansas to minister because of the Ursulines’ historic presence, and the relationships she’s built.

“A lot of people don’t know the Ursulines are still here,” she said. “I told myself I was open to going to Kentucky, but I found out the position was open here. In the past, I’d come here to do spiritual direction once a month and was on the staff of the Busy Bee Retreat.” Retreats and spiritual direction are two of her favorite ministries, so the decision was easy.

The Didde Center was built in 1990 by Carl and Teresa Didde, and features daily Mass except on Tuesday in Saint Teresa’s Chapel. It is a registered student organization, and a 15-member student council plans events for the center’s use. Sister Pat is the full-time employee during the days, and four student outreach ministers take turns working in the evenings.

“We try to get the students involved when they come to campus as freshmen,” she said. They have a back-to-school meal, a potluck during Thanksgiving week, and a fish fry on the first Friday of Lent. There’s a taco dinner in October, and barbecue sales on Super Bowl Sunday, Sister Pat said. Once a month, there is a Mass for people with disabilities, called Chrism, and students volunteer to serve a meal at a food kitchen.

“I like to be available,” Sister Pat said. “If it makes an impact, that’s great. I know my presence at KU made a difference.”

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