Jean Lynch: her own spirituality has been deepened
Jean Lynch is a Providence Associate from Sarasota, Fla. She attended Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She now ministers as the director of the preschool at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota.
Jean’s companion was Sister Cathy Buster.
1.) Share a little about yourself.
I worked for several years in Rhode Island as a staff nurse, nursing instructor, nursing supervisor and director of education. In 1978, we moved to Sarasota, Fla., after my Dad was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. I worked for 12½ years at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, retiring as associate director of nursing. I then went to Doctors’ Hospital of Sarasota as director of Quality Improvement and Education.
Then began my “corporate phase,” as I like to call it. I worked with two National Home Health companies for the next five years as director of Regulatory Compliance and regional director of Staff Development. These positions took me to Brunswick, Ga., and Memphis, Tenn., respectively.
I returned to Sarasota in 1990 and have held a variety of positions in nursing homes and home health. I have been on the faculties of the Community College of Rhode Island and Sarasota County Technical Institute. I also served as examiner for the State of Rhode Island for the certified nursing assistant examination.
After a back injury, I moved briefly back to Rhode Island. This proved to be a very providential move. I was able to assist in the care of a very dear friend who was dying of brain cancer. I was also able to assist another close friend in providing care for her mother while my friend was recovering from cancer surgery.
I am now firmly rooted in Sarasota, once again, with my two cats, Cali and Adeline.
This year, I was offered the opportunity to manage the preschool at St. Patrick’s Parish in Sarasota. After many ups and downs with the additional educational requirements, I am now fully certified as a director of preschool for the State of Florida. This is all thanks to many friends and the intercession of Saint Mother Theodore. It is the perfect job for me. I just love being around the children and have always enjoyed working with them on a volunteer basis — first as a teen counselor at camp, then as a volunteer with children ages 5 to 14 in a fraternal organization and as a certified catechist for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist.
I enjoy the movies, Broadway music and shows, theatre, the circus and reading. I am an enthusiastic Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. Another great past time is watching Notre Dame, Boston College and the Florida Gators play football. Providence College basketball is my great love, but we don’t get many games down here!
2.) What is your connection with the Sisters of Providence?
When I first came to Florida, I met a very special lady — Sister Maureen Therese Brennan (RIP). From our first meeting, we became fast friends with our mutual love of all things Irish. I believe that is when my discernment process began — way back in 1978! Sister Maureen Therese shared her stories of Mother Theodore and her own love for the mission of the Sisters of Providence. When I later read the “Journals and Letters” of Mother Theodore, I could almost hear Sister Maureen Therese relating a story. Through good times and bad, we remained fast friends. She was my mentor and counselor, even after she came home to the Woods. Sister Maureen Therese shared the friendships of her fellow Sisters of Providence, and I came to think of them as my community, too.
That is how I came to know Sister Cathy Buster and Hallie McMahan. Mother Theodore’s legacy is a part of me. When Sister Maureen Therese was ready to come home to the Woods, she put Hallie and Sister Cathy “in charge” of watching over me — my earthly angels. As I drove Sister Maureen Therese home to the Woods and entered that beautiful drive for the first time, I knew I, too, was home!
It was through my connection with Sister Maureen Therese and Sister Luke Crawford that I was privileged to participate in one of the brainstorming meetings being held around the country in preparation for developing the Congregation’s five-year plan. That is where much discussion was held about the need for an associate “program.” Needless to say, I was delighted when I was asked to participate in the first class of Providence Associates.
3.) Why did you want to become a Providence Associate?
I became an associate because I felt a deep spiritual connection with the Congregation and their charism embodied by the sisters. Praying in communion with the sisters has deepened my own spirituality. I was searching for something to fulfill my life and I found it as an associate.
4.) What is the best part of being a Providence Associate?
The best part of being an associate is being a part of this great community. I feel closer than ever to all of the sisters, especially those whom I have met over the years. Now I feel as though I have truly come home!
5.) What is your commitment?
My commitment is to honor Saint Mother Theodore through caring for the children in our preschool using her precept: “Love the children first, and then teach them.” I am committed to fulfilling my ministries of lector and Eucharistic minister in the most prayerful manner. I strive to attend daily Mass before school, and I pray the morning Liturgy of the Hours every day.
6.) How did you and Sister Cathy go through the Spiritual Integration Units? What was your favorite part about the units?
Sister Cathy Buster was my companion through the discernment process and remains my good friend. We journeyed through the Spiritual Integration Units by long distance. I was living in Rhode Island at the time and Sister Cathy was in Sarasota. We e-mailed our thoughts and reflections back and forth and had occasional phone conferences — many times talking for an hour or more. And, we met whenever I could get back to Florida. Sister Cathy has been and continues to be a great inspiration to me through her commitment to those less fortunate and to the mission of Providence.
I found that my favorite part of the Spiritual Integration Units was reflecting over and over again on how Providence has influenced my life.
7.) What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Providence Associate?
To someone thinking about becoming an associate I would say, “It’s the best thing that could happen to your spiritual life.” Being an associate gives our prayer life a much more significant role as members sharing in the common life and ministry of the Sisters of Providence.