Biographies

Sister Amabilis Lynch, MM

Born: May 9, 1907
Entered: October 14, 1928
Died: August 22, 1990

Good Morning and a special welcome to the members of Sister Amabilis’ family and to Maryknoll Father Edward Manning who join us for this Eucharistic celebration of the Resurrection.

On August 22 at 7:15 P.M. Sister Mary Amabilis Lynch died in the Maryknoll Nursing Home – quietly and peacefully as she did all things in life. After entering Maryknoll in 1928, she asked that she be given a religious name in honor of the Blessed Mother. None of her own three suggestions was chosen, but the choice that was made was extraordinarily apt and insightful. The latin title Amabilis means amiable and lovable, characterized by kindheartedness, being good-natured and obliging, all qualities that friends have used to describe Sister. It is fitting that Sister Amabilis should have gone to heaven on the feast of the Queenship of Mary.

Baptized Honora Veronica – but called Nora by the family – she was the third of four daughters born to Michael and Nora Dooley Lynch, on May 9, 1907. Her father was Irish by birth, but settled in Philadelphia where the Lynch family grew up.

Having finished the 8th grade she went on to study at Strayer’s Business College, then joined the work force for five years as clerk and typist. She was an exceptionally observant person and quick to learn – traits she showed throughout life as she was called to accomplish tasks for which she was not always professionally prepared but which she did well nevertheless.

At 21 years of age Nora was happy to leave her $17-dollar-a-week job and come to Maryknoll. She made first profession of vows on January 6, 1931 and Final Vows three years later on the same date. Combining cooking, office work and study at The Venard (Clarks Summit, PA.), the Motherhouse and Field Afar (Maryknoll Magazine), Sister Amabilis received her Certificate of High School Credit in 1934 and later studied part-time at the Pius X School of Liturgical Music.

Apart from 9 years on the West Coast and less than 5 at the Novitiate at Topsfield, Massachusetts, Sister’s 62 years of service to mission were spent here on Mary’s Knoll, at the Seminary, St. Teresa’s or the Sisters’ Center. Wherever she was she used her skills unobtrusively and with single-hearted dedication. In San Juan Capistrano Mission in California she found herself filling in, teaching a classroom full of 5th and 6th graders. That she turned out to be an excellent educator was a surprise to her and to others. A Sister writes in 1946: “You should see Sister Amabilis. She is a born teacher and has perfect discipline. Usually she is extremely quiet and not talkative at all, but is so animated about her class. It is a pity that her voice is so soft. But she writes all the directions on the board and it works well.” As the years went on she put her mind, heart and hands to bookkeeping, chauffeuring and general secretarial work, but the tasks for which she is most remembered and which she probably enjoyed most were those that involved her in monitoring construction and building renovations. She supervised such work in Monrovia in 1974, our Westminster house in St. Louis, 1975, and then took on her most challenging service to the Congregation: getting the fourth floor remodeled for our Nursing Facility. Admittedly, the appearance of this short, slight, elderly woman with the soft voice and determined walk seemed somewhat incongruous as she checked out the scaffold sites in her hard hat, but all the workers and consultants respected her greatly, not only for her knowledge and thoroughness but for her engaging style.

A good friend when asked about her impressions of Sister Amabilis commented: “If you had a need to know about something problematic she’d be frank, but if she knew it wasn’t going to help, she’d just smile and say ‘Put a seal on my lips.’” But she was always there to walk with you and search for a solution; always ready to see the job through and wrap up the small things that needed doing, always finding time to reach out to those who were lonely or ill. If she observed something and felt it was important she would share her objective facts with the persons who could do something about it and leave it in their hands. She rarely spoke of herself and seemed to carry within her a special peace that comes from a deep relationship with God. People remember her for that, and for quiet laughter, witty remarks, gentleness, unswerving loyalty and always being approachable.

Bouts with poor health over many years ultimately led to her admission to the Nursing Home in May 1986. There, in the special place that she had helped to create she was lovingly cared for by a devoted staff and visited by family and friends. In 1988 she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee along with several members of her entrance group.