Sister Regina Ann Lynch
“The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” – Romans 5:6.
Truly God’s love was poured into the heart of Sister Regina Ann Lynch from her birth. Born on March 25, 1931, in Indianapolis, she received her initiation into Christ at baptism at St. Anthony Church and was given the name, Mary Regina, though to her family, she was always just Mary. This life of grace was nurtured by her parents, John and Ann Gaughan Lynch, both Irish immigrants. She was the youngest child, with three older brothers, all of whom have preceded her in death, said Sister Rosemary Schmalz in her commentary for Sister Regina Ann Lynch, who passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 91 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 74 years.
Sister Rosemary continued: Mary was introduced to the Sisters of Providence when she attended St. Anthony School. She says in her application that she wanted to be a sister since first grade. Graduating from St. Anthony, she went on to St. John High School. For whatever reason, she applied to enter the Congregation on Feb. 2, 1948, having completed only five semesters at St. John and she was accepted. As a postulant, she was given the name Sister Regina Ann. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.
Her ministry history shows that her first assignment was to a two-grade classroom, grades three and four at Our Lady of Mercy in Chicago. My guess is that this would be a challenge for any beginning teacher. She must have done a good job because after five years with this assignment, she was sent to Our Lady of Greenwood in Indiana for three years, where she taught a three-grade classroom, grades three, four and five. Then in 1958, she began 38 years of being a primary teacher.
Of course, with that ministry, she taught more than 1,000 children to read and prepared many of them as well for First Communion. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, in the late 1960s she worked to complete a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University. She eagerly brought many of the innovative methods she was learning in the summer into her teaching and helped implement a variety of educational innovations when she was principal at Flaget School in Vincennes. It was there that she was nicknamed “Queenie.” Dottie Lane from St. John Parish writes that she was “an all-around Queen of many talents. In addition to being principal and teacher, she was Sacristan and Decorator for our Parish.” Several sisters have attested to the fact that she was also a terrific cook.
In 1979, she took a position teaching first grade at All Saints School in Indianapolis, which as some of you will recall was a consolidation of several near west side Indianapolis schools, one of which was her Alma Mater, St. Anthony. She took up residence at that convent. She kept this position for 17 years. Mary Pat Sharpe, principal of All Saints, wrote “I learned many valuable lessons from her. She had such energy and enthusiasm.”
During these years, and even in the years before her move to Indianapolis, she frequently gave service during the summers in the Infirmary. In her own words, she has always loved serving the sick. So, during the last few years of her teaching at All Saints, she studied to become a Certified Nurse’s Aide. Leaving teaching in 1996, she took a position of nurse’s aide at St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove. Let me do the arithmetic for you. She was 65 years old when she made this transition. Sister Lawrence Ann, who lived with the Benedictine community at Beech Grove at the time, attests to the fact that she could keep up in the work load with the young women who had finished their studies perhaps right out of high school. She held that position for five years and remained another year as a volunteer before actually retiring.
However, Sister Regina Ann was not one to retire from giving service. Her work history says that from 2002 to 2006, she was a volunteer at St. Anthony Parish, among other things being sacristan and catechist. At that time, St. Anthony’s was somewhat of the SP hotel in Indianapolis and she, along with Sisters Catherine Qualters, Monica Withem and Joann Frame, were the team that provided hospitality for any sister requesting lodging. And when she came to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 2006, she volunteered in health care for 12 more years, arriving about 5:30 or 6 a.m. to attend to morning drink service, bringing coffee to the rooms, replenishing water pitchers and so forth. She stayed and helped all through breakfast.
But all this is a description of what she DID. Who was this lovely woman with a serene countenance, always quiet, always gracious, always generously contributing to the common good? Let’s get back to the scripture reading. Sister Gloria Memering lived with Sister Regina Ann in Vincennes from 1976 to 1979. I think that most of you will agree that these were rocky years in the Congregation, and many local communities, including St. John, Vincennes, struggled to live together well. Gloria remembers that some directive came from “on high” that each house should meet and that each sister should share a little something about her spirituality. When it was Sister Regina Ann’s turn to share, Sister Gloria remembers that she quoted Romans: “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us,” and said something like, “That says it all. I don’t have to add anything.” And she repeated the quote. As you might guess, Sister Gloria never forgot this moment.
The Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
Truly none of us are surprised that this scripture was the basis of her spirituality. A quiet woman who had multiple skills which she shared generously, a peaceful woman whose very presence brought along with peace, a prayerful woman always taking time to refuel what motivated her life and ministry, receiving the outpouring of the love of God. She was always sensitive to children from troubled families, she had tender concern for sisters who were suffering, she was a quiet presence in any living situation of which she was a part.
When I asked sisters to share their memories of Sister Regina Ann, every one of them said – she was kind, kind to everyone. Sister Martha was assigned to Flaget as her first mission and lived in the above-mentioned St. John Convent. She recalls that she took a walk with three eighth grade girls after school. This was against protocol since we were never to go anywhere without a sister companion. Several sisters in the house took her to task about this. Sister Martha remembers that Sister Regina Ann told her not to worry at all about it. “She was SO KIND to me,” Martha attests.
Kindness, the expression of love of God poured into your heart. How countless are the many people who were consoled by your presence. How grateful all of us are for your many years of loving kindness. And now, dear Sister Regina Ann, you are living fully with this God whose love you have embodied all these years. We know that you surely rest in peace!
Funeral services for Sister Regina Ann took place on Nov. 28-29, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
A Wake took place from 2:30-4:30 p.m., on Monday, Nov. 28. Mass of Christian Burial took place at 11 a.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Sister Regina Ann to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Regina Ann in the comment section below.
Sister Regina Ann Lynch
In Illinois: Teacher, Our Lady of Mercy, Chicago (1950-55).
In Indiana: Teacher, Our Lady of Greenwood, Greenwood (1955-58); Teacher, St. Patrick, Terre Haute (1958-60); Teacher, St. Paul, Sellersburg (1966-67); Teacher, St. John, Vincennes (1967-76); Principal/Teacher, Flaget, Vincennes (1976-79); Teacher, All Saints School, Indianapolis (1979-96); Nurse’s Assistant, St. Paul Hermitage, Beech Grove (1996-2001); Volunteer, St. Paul Hermitage, Beech Grove (2001-02); Volunteer, St. Anthony Parish, Indianapolis (2002-06); Volunteer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2006-18); Prayer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2018-22).
In North Carolina: Teacher, Blessed Sacrament, Burlington (1960-64); Teacher, St. Patrick, Fayetteville (1964-66).
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