Sister Margaret “Peggy” Lynch (formerly Sister James Patrick)
Reading: God of Providence (v. 1 and 3) by Sister Margaret Lynch, SP
God of PROVIDENCE
God of hope and possibility
you summon us into life
brood over us with your love’s creative force
transform our hearts
so that we may also love.
God of PROVIDENCE
God of hope and possibility
nourish our hunger for living simply
with imagination enough
to see what is possible
with courage enough
to shape that vision into reality
and with perseverance enough
to carry to completion
with passion for your PROVIDENCE
our call to be witnesses
of your LOVE.
This original poem by Sister Peggy demonstrates well, I believe, the love of others which seemed to dominate her life of reaching out and “being there” for family, former students and anyone whom she encountered through the years, in whatever setting. She so wanted to love and to be loved, said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Margaret “Peggy” Lynch, formerly Sister James Patrick, who passed away on Thursday, November 3, 2022, at Goodwin Family Hospice Center, at Terre Haute Union Hospital. She was 79 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 61 years.
Sister Ann continued: Margaret Mary Lynch was born Jan. 3, 1943, in Chicago to James and Alice Noe Lynch. She liked to say she was born into a mixed marriage, for her father was Irish and her mother Polish. Margaret had one sister, Nancy, who preceded her in death. She is survived by her brother-in-law, Patrick, and several nephews, nieces and great-nephews and nieces. She attended St. Mark Grade School and Siena High School in Chicago before entering the Sisters of Providence Congregation Sept. 18, 1961.
Sister Peggy’s cousin, Mary Doherty FioRito, fondly spoke of the treasured memories of Sundays and holidays when “all the Noe grandchildren — all first cousins — played outside or in the kitchen of our grandparents’ home while the elders conversed in the parlor. Creating plays to perform in the foyer and other fun activities, we learned much about each other. Peggy had an amazing memory and could remember history and poetry with ease. Thus every Christmas at Grandpa Noe’s request, Peggy would recite the entire ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ poem with no script or prompting. Peggy was a whiz at math, too, and would help cousins with any math problems. In exchange, Peggy solicited their help. She must have talked a lot in school, because the cousins helped Peggy by writing pages of ‘I Must Not Talk in School.’ (Mary said she often wondered if the Sister noticed the differences in hand-writing).”
Margaret Mary received the religious name of Sister James Patrick, later returning to her baptismal name, and the name by which most knew her, Sister Peggy. She professed first vows Aug. 15, 1964 and perpetual vows Aug, 16, 1969. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and two master’s degrees from Loyola University, Chicago: the first in Religious Education and the second in Religious Studies.
During her 61 years of ministry Sister Peggy had assignments in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. She taught biology, religion and health classes in junior and senior high school for about 13 years and for a few years was also Dean of Girls. Peggy did some adult education at Providence Self-Sufficiency Ministries in southern Indiana. This ministry particularly impressed her cousin Carole Noe Walthers. “Peggy taught Life Skills classes daily to the residents in a low-income housing complex. Everything from personal hygiene, budgeting, healthy eating, successful childcare and job hunting skills was included, all the while enriching the residents’ lives with God’s grace. She was quite an inspiration!”
Sister Peggy taught religion in the early 70s, when things in the Catholic Church were very much in flux, which was right up Peggy’s alley, because she was not bound by religion textbooks and could “do her own thing,” which she loved. And the students loved her, many 50 years later still declaring her “one of their favorite teachers.” I was her principal for several of those years and, believe me; she pushed me to the edge more than once! She had a propensity for continuing a “side-ministry” of counseling well into the early morning hours and would drive home about 2 a.m. from heaven knows where, not quite understanding why I was a bit upset. Of course, if Sister Peggy had her way, life would have been without boundaries, deadlines or time constraints.
A former student, Mary Ann Boarini Noble, recounted that besides giggling as high school sophomores will do, and insisting that they clothe Herman, the human torso, that stood in the back of the room, they did actually do class work in biology. She particularly remembered dissecting frogs. “We had to do this unit during the winter as there wasn’t a refrigerator in the classroom. We kept our frogs on the outside window ledge above 14th Street. One day when I went to retrieve the frog my group was working on, I couldn’t find it. Sister Peggy wasn’t too thrilled but helped me look for it. She discovered our frog down on the snowy ground below the window. I had to go out and get the frog so we could complete our lesson on dissection!”
After her teaching years, Sister Peggy served in youth ministry and extensively in parish ministry, as Pastoral Associate or Parish Life Coordinator. Serious health problems brought Peggy to the Motherhouse in 2010 where she ministered to her sisters in a variety of ways as she was able. She was very intelligent and an avid reader, loving to share what she learned with anyone who would listen. She was also a very creative writer, poet and prayer author.
As her health declined, it was determined that her needs would be best served at Westridge Health Center in Terre Haute. That move in 2019 was a hard one for Peggy, as she missed the Woods and her sisters. Her assigned ministry in those years was one of prayer. In typical fashion, however, Peggy made the most of her situation and decided she could minister at Westridge as well as be a patient. Sister Betty Hopf, her band member and health care representative, observed: “Peggy created a ministry of loving presence at Westridge. She took a personal interest in the staff and every one of them I saw told me how she would cheer them up and tell them stories. They loved her.”
A band member, Sister Diane Mason, credits Sister Peggy with helping her through her “academic struggles” when they were in formation together. “I kept pushing through my struggles with help from others and I never have forgotten those who were there for me. Peggy was one of them!”
Sister Mary Montgomery experienced Peggy in much the same way: “She had many health issues through the years but I often saw resilience in her. She had a big heart for people.”
This capacity for deep compassion and empathy extended often to family members as well. Her great niece Devin recounted: “Aunt Peggy and I would always have such good talks once I got into high school. This was so special to me because I went to a Catholic high school and could always ask her questions about what I was learning. The further I got through high school the more I could understand of all the Catholic teachings and that just made our conversations even more special to me.”
Another special memory of Devin was around Christmas. Every year I looked forward to ornaments that Aunt Pegs would send us. Each of the five of us would receive one and we all got to hang them on the tree. This was super special to me because Aunt Pegs was just so thoughtful and we could always feel like she was there with us during Christmas time even when she was not able to travel to come see us.”
It is all these memories of Sister Peggy that will continue to live on in the minds and hearts of those who loved her. In that realization, I’ll let Mary FioRito have the final words today: “To the end, Sister Peggy Lynch continued her work of Providence as she perceived it to be by ministering to anyone who crossed her path. So, rest now in the peace of God’s providence and love, dear Peggy.”
Funeral services for Sister Margaret took place on Friday, November 11, and Saturday, November 12, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
A Wake took place from 2:30-4:30 p.m., on Friday, November 12, and again from 9:30-11 a.m., on Saturday, November 12, with Mass of Christian Burial to take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, November 12.
Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Sister Margaret to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Margaret in the comment section below.
Sister Margaret “Peggy” Lynch (formerly Sister James Patrick)
In Illinois: Teacher, St. Alexander, Palos Heights (1966-67); Theology Department, Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove (1976-77); Director of Religious Education, Notre Dame Parish, Clarendon Hills (1977-80).
In Indiana: Teacher, St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis (1967-70); Teacher, Ladywood-St. Agnes, Indianapolis (1970-73); High School Religious Coordinator, Archdiocese of Indianapolis (1970-73); Teacher/Dean of Girls, Terre Haute Schulte High School, Terre Haute (1973-76); Pastoral Associate/Director of Religious Education, Sacred Heart Parish, Terre Haute (1980-82); CPE Training, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis (1982-83); Teacher, Indianapolis Scecina High School, Indianapolis (1983-84); Director of Youth Ministry, Diocese of Evansville, Evansville (1986-87); Director of Religious Education, St. Joan of Arc Religious Education Center, Kokomo (1987-92); Pastoral Associate for Adult Formation, St. Paul Parish, Marion (1993-94); Adult Education Teacher/Staff, Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries/Beechwood Center, New Albany (1994-97); Adult Education Teacher/Staff, Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries/Parkview Center, New Albany (1997-98); Parish Life Coordinator, St. Leonard (West Terre Haute), St. Mary Parish, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village (1998-2005); Ministry of Care Volunteer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2007-2012); Prayer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2012-2022).
In Kentucky: Youth Retreat Consultant, Archdiocese of Louisville, Louisville (1984-86).
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