August 2007: SISTER MARY FLYNN (entered eternal life on January 15, 2023)
“God has blessed me and I am grateful for so many things - especially the opportunity to serve others,” Sister Mary Flynn said. This Franciscan Sister is an example to us in how God invites us to be His instruments through acts of charity, kindness, and love.
A calling to be of service to others
When September 8, 1949 arrived for 18-year-old Mary Elizabeth Flynn to answer God’s call to enter Religious Life, she left her family in Litchfield, IL to live in St. Francis Convent, Springfield. She had visited the convent a few months prior and experienced a sense of peace and kindness from the Sisters. “I knew that this was where I belonged. God had brought me to this beautiful home with the Hospital Sisters.”
Although living away from home, she realized soon that she wasn’t alone. “I had a twin brother named Gerald Joseph who died after three months and he had always with me in spirit. I considered him my guardian angel and you can imagine how blessed I was to receive the religious name Sister Gerelda which further united me with him,” she explained.
She made First Profession of her vows on June 13, 1952 and later graduated from the Springfield School of Practical Nursing. She served as a Licensed Practical Nurse at the Sisters’ sponsored hospitals in Highland, Springfield, Sheboygan, Decatur, along with service at the Motherhouse. In addition, she worked at St. Ann’s Home, Shreveport, LA, in caring for unwed mothers. But one hospital has had a special significance in her life: St. Francis Hospital, Litchfield.
A hometown that continues to be home
Born on October 5, 1930 in Litchfield to George and Ruth (Wilson-Schwab) Flynn, Sister Mary is one of 11 children. Her father was a mail carrier in South Litchfield and her mother was a homemaker. Sister Mary graduated from St. Mary’s Grade School and Litchfield High School where, during her senior year, she accepted a job in the registration department at St. Francis Hospital. At that time there were 35 to 40 Sisters working at the hospital and she was impressed with their compassion and care of the patients.
Currently she volunteers at St. Francis Hospital and assists in the hospital chapel. “There have been so many Sisters who have served in Litchfield and they truly made a difference in people’s lives. Now it is a beautiful tribute to the Sisters in the way that the employees, physicians, and volunteers continue that work in caring for the patients and this community. The work that they do here is wonderful and I am so grateful to all who bring the healing presence of Christ to all in need.”
Daniel Perryman, Chief Executive Officer of St. Francis Hospital, wrote that “Sister Mary is very attentive to all of our patients and their families. She is always so willing to lend a hand and go that extra mile to help someone find their way around the hospital. You can see her at the information desk - and when she is not there, she is probably getting a wheelchair for a patient, a magazine or cup of coffee for a visitor, or finding a coloring book for a child. I also thank her for serving as the Sacristan of our beautiful Chapel. Her dedication to the mission of St. Francis Hospital and all the people we serve is greatly appreciated,” he added.
An inspirational message
Throughout her life, Sister Mary has found strength through prayer and the scripture passage ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ “I pray this Psalm 23 every day and it continues to inspire me. Through it I find peace in remembering that God guides each of us and pray that it can be an inspiration to everyone who reads this story. We can find peace in knowing that God is with us,” she concluded.