Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

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

Emporia State, with 5,500 students, is much smaller than KU, and she has more responsibilities at Didde. “I’m wearing other hats here, but I’m available to talk.”

Sister Pat is a former vocations director, and thinks potential sisters are much more likely to come from college-age women than those in high school. “Being on a college campus is important. I don’t know high school kids,” she said. “Even college is a little young these days. In some of the parishes, people have never seen a sister.”

Sister Pat (at the top of the stairs) attended the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention, Feb. 11-13 in Topeka, Kan., with students from Emporia State.

“It is great to see Pat back in campus ministry again because she seems so happy there,” said Sister Kathleen, who has known Sister Pat since her early days in the community.“She loves the college students a lot and they love her. I know that she serves as an anchor for them, a steady and wise listener and adviser.Pat is good at enjoying people’s gifts and letting them be themselves without trying to change them.”

Heather Hauskins is a junior nursing student at Emporia State and the activities coordinator for the student council. She calls Sister Pat “perfect” for the college environment.

“She’s very open, if you have any questions, no one is afraid to talk to her,” Hauskins said. “She’s not pushy, she gives you information you need, and allows you to make that decision. She’s very involved with anything we have going on.”

This year’s Busy Bee Retreat was the first week of March, and Sister Pat was glad to be part of the staff. “It’s more life-giving to me to talk about God, and what God means to me,” she said. During the retreat, “students are sharing with me the effect of how God is working in their lives.”

Another retreat leader that week was Sister Bev Carlin, the vocations director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, who lives in Manhattan, Kan. She said Sister Pat is a good guide for the students.

“Sister Pat went to the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention (Feb. 11-13 in Topeka), she was present with the students,” Sister Bev said. “Being present to the students, learning about their days, being part of their life is the vital part of her ministry.”

Sister Pat takes a moment in the St. Teresa Chapel in the Didde Catholic Campus Center. The chapel is named for Saint Therese of Lisieux, but spelled “Teresa” for Teresa Didde, who along with her husband Carl, commissioned the creation of the Didde Center, which was dedicated in 1990.

Kathleen (McGreevey) Warden and Sister Pat became friends at 14, when they were freshmen at Ursuline Academy, and remain close today. “Our generation grew up with priests and nuns, we had an important connection in our parishes and schools,” Warden said. “It’s unfortunate that this generation is not as lucky, they don’t connect with priests and nuns. What Pat does is show our youth of today the value of religious life. This is such an important turning point in their lives — will they continue to go to church? She serves as that representative of our Catholic faith.

“She has amazing warmth, is strong in her faith, and has an unequaled joy for life,” Warden said. “That’s what the kids see. So many 18 year olds have never met a sister.”

Sister Pat said she tries to bring hospitality, simplicity, and being a witness to religious life to whomever she meets in her ministry.

“Wisdom and experience in life have given me the tools to work with people, to show them how to balance busyness and spirituality, to take time for prayer.”

Overcoming adversity

The smile that so easily comes to Sister Pat’s face is all the more remarkable considering the number of tragic events that occurred in her childhood.

She spent her early years in Pennsylvania, but when she was 3, her 6-week-old brother died, and the family moved to Kansas City, Mo., where her maternal grandmother lived. When she was 5, her mother died two days after giving birth to her younger sister, and the family moved back to Pennsylvania. At age 7, at her grandmother’s request, the family moved back to Kansas City.

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