Sister Myrna Lynch
Myrna was born on 16th January 1937 in the War Memorial Hospital Waverley. She was the youngest daughter of Margueretta Mary (Myrna) and George Harrison Lynch, and was one of nine children. Myrna grew up in Bondi, “the only place worth living in Sydney”. She attended St Patrick’s Primary School, Bondi and St Vincent’s College, Potts Point. When I asked her sisters and brother what Myrna was like as a child, their words were unanimous, “She was a beautiful curly haired girl and we loved her” One of her sisters said, “She was a born entrepreneur and could run the country. She certainly organised the family”. Family gatherings were special and memorable. Myrna was so proud of her nieces and nephews and their families and her greatest delight was to share in their lives. All of us I am sure have seen photos of significant family events.
On 2nd July 1955 at the age of eighteen Myrna entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity at Wahroonga. Her two sisters accompanied her, as her Dad was too sad to go with her.
Following her profession as a Sister of Charity she trained as a teacher and taught within our schools from Brisbane to Hobart.
Myrna taught in the following schools:
- St Mary’s Cathedral College, Sydney, NSW
- St Mary’s School, Liverpool, NSW
- St Thomas More’s Primary School, Brighton, NSW
- Mater Dei Catholic Primary School, St John’s Wood, QLD
- St Aloysius Catholic College, Kingston Beach, TAS
- Corpus Christi Primary School, Glenroy, VIC
- St John’s Primary School, Clifton Hill, VIC
- St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School, Airport West, VIC
- St Joseph the Worker Primary School, South Auburn, NSW
- Our Lady of Mt Carmel School, Mt Pritchard, NSW (on two occasions)
She also spent some time in Papua New Guinea
Myrna was a creative educator; a gifted classroom teacher specialising in creative arts. She loved children and the education closest to her heart was the teaching of children with special needs. Wherever Myrna was she created community and developed lifelong relationships.
Her teaching friends share stories of myriads of occasions of her celebrating with them, whether on outings, in their homes, or within her religious community.
She would make her beautiful sponges with passionfruit icing and the teachers would bring a variety of slices etc. quite a banquet! As the sisters came home, one by one, Myrna would say, “These are my friends”.
Some reflections about Myrna that were shared by Sisters, soon after her death, are worth recalling.
“I received my love of photography from Myrna. In filming close ups she encouraged me to keep going, to get it into focus, this was a wonderful learning for me. God came into focus in my life. She gave a lot of people a lot of joy”.
Myrna knew many of our families. “One Easter I was going home to my family and Myrna gave me marshmallow rabbits, cooked by her, for my nieces and nephews. My sister had never seen so many marshmallow rabbits.
The children came all afternoon taking handfuls of marshmallows yet the supply of rabbits didn’t seem to diminish like the loaves and fishes. Myrna’s generosity knew no bounds.”
She was open and direct. She loved people and could “waste” time with them. She gave, never counting the cost.
One lovely story is the one about Myrna’s memory of her mother’s Venetian rosary beads. When, in Venice, Myrna decided to search for beads; her gift to her family on returning to Australia would be a pair of Venetian rosary beads, just like her mother’s. She searched and searched for the beads down side streets and in odd places until she eventually found the bead shop. She bought the beads, the wire for threading and pliers to make them. She made five pairs of rosary beads, absolutely magnificent and treasured by her family’.
Myrna loved her pottery. As well as giving shape to the many creative ideas she had, working at the wheel and forming pieces became a source of inner peace and consolation. She discovered this especially through her times of personal struggle. God was present to her through her pottery and she was drawn to it with a passion.
Myrna was gifted in sharing fun and laughter, however along with this Myrna had her own struggle with her weight. This was Myrna’s “troubled water” and she found her bridge over these troubled waters through her time in America, as part of the Emmaus program. She shared with me that if she had not had the experience of Emmaus she could never have faced the diagnosis of cancer.
In her final four years, Myrna’s life changed. She had to come to accept living with cancer and this she did. She integrated her social life, community life and ministry with regular visits to St Vincent’s Hospital for treatment. Myrna loved her two doctors, Allan Maher and Robyn Ward, also the staff in Oncology, St Vincent’s Private and Public Hospitals.
The community at 40 West Street, Darlinghurst was a safe haven and she was grateful for their skill and care. However her greatest delight was always to be able to go home to her community in Liverpool. Myrna said her good-byes. “Now, that’s all my business done”. Her last ten days were spent at St Joseph’s Hospital Auburn. She said many times, “They care for me beautifully here”. Myrna died peacefully at 2.45am on Monday morning, 3rd September 2001 after her long battle with cancer. We believe death ends a life, not a relationship, so Myrna will always live in our hearts.