Sister Mary Louise Lynch, MMS, second president of the USCMA Board of Directors, is called to eternal rest .
Sr. Mary Louise Lynch, MMS, a native of Baltimore, died in Philadelphia on February 7, 2015, just one week shy of her 90th birthday. She had been in declining health for several years. Mass of the Resurrection, celebrated to honor her dedicated life over those 90 years and to rejoice in her entering eternal life with the Lord, brought many prayerful sisters and friends together on Monday, February 16, at her Community's North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.
Sr. Mary Louise was a well-known and ardent advocate for justice. Her upbringing, at Baltimore's Institute of Notre Dame High School in 1943 and the College of Notre Dame helped her prepare for entering the Medical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia in 1945. After her early religious formation, she attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, becoming the first member of her Community to receive a degree in journalism. Sr. Mary Louise worked in public relations for several years before being missioned to India where she served on the Novitiate staff. She also helped with fundraising and publicity for the new Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi, the only Catholic hospital in the capital which the Medical Mission Sisters administered.
Returning later to Philadelphia, Sr. Mary Louise worked again in public relations and vocational promotion. Then she moved onto serve as local superior in St. Louis, Missouri. This was followed by 10 years of leadership roles in Philadelphia, Rome and for the entire North American Sector of Medical Mission Sisters.
Returning to Baltimore in 1973 she began working part-time as Communications Director for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Sr. Mary Louise earned a Master's Degree in Counseling from Antioch College in Columbia, Maryland and afterwards served on the staff of the Baltimore Archdiocesan Consultation Center for Clergy and Religious.
She continued her communications work for the Medical Mission Sisters while becoming very involved in social justice work. Sister founded her Community's "Alliance for Justice Office"; was co-chairperson of the Baltimore Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission; served as second President of the newly formed U.S. Catholic Mission Association (1984 – 1986); acted as social justice consultant to many other religious communities of women and men; helped establish the Catholic Religious Network in Baltimore; edited the Medical Mission Sisters' "History of the Society: 1925-1967"; and assisted others in the archdiocese with their communications needs.
Of significant importance to the U. S. Catholic Mission Association is the fact that during the period of 1984 to 1986 Sr. Mary Louise served as the second President of the US Catholic Mission Association (USCMA) Board of Directors. The Association had begun in 1950 as the Mission Secretariat whose focus, while working closely with the NCCB Commission on the Missions, was on “missio ad gentes.” Reflecting on the deeper understanding of mission as proposed by Vatican II documents, the Mission Secretariat’s name, purpose, and focus changed to embrace all aspects of mission; in 1969 it became the US Catholic Mission Council. Further evolution occurred in subsequent years. Deliberations at the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 emphasized the importance of Justice as a constitutive aspect of mission. “God has revealed himself to us, and made known to us, as it is brought progressively to realization, his plan of liberation and salvation which is once and for all fulfilled in the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
It is no wonder then that in 1981, opening its doors to include hierarchy, religious, and laity, the US Catholic Mission Council further evolved into US Catholic Mission Association, where justice issues became important. It was in those years of transition, and with her acute sense of justice, that Sr. Mary Louise helped guide the USCMA.
In 1993 Sister Mary Louise was honored by the leadership of the major communities of religious in Baltimore for her justice and peace work. She continued to write and speak about justice issues – her passion – as long as she was able. In the mid-2000s she returned to Philadelphia. The final part of her pilgrim life on earth ended there on February 7, 2015 when the Lord called her to himself to enjoy everlasting life.