May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved!
Sr Moira fdnsc
Marie Therese Lynch
08.09.1923 – 18.02.2015
When you give alms,
your left hand must not know
what your right is doing;
your almsgiving must be secret,
and your Father
who sees all that is done in secret
will reward you
Matthew 6, 3-4
These words, from the Gospel of Matthew, were read during the Eucharistic liturgy that was celebrated on Ash Wednesday, the day on which Sr Moira gently left this world and went to meet her heavenly Father, to receive the reward that He had waiting for her. Moira was one, who throughout her life had tried to live by these directives of Jesus, for she had unobtrusively, given, so much of herself to serving others. Moira was not one to ‘trumpet her good deeds’, in fact, it was often said of her that ‘Her left hand did not know what her right hand was doing.’
Sr Moira, baptised Marie Therese, was born in 1923, in Lockhart, NSW, the third of Edward and Agnes Lynch’s nine children. Her parents and seven siblings have predeceased her. To her only surviving sister, Noreen, her nieces, nephews and their families, we offer you the assurance of the support of our prayers and our sympathy, on the death of your much loved sister and aunt.
Growing up in rural New South Wales, Marie attended the Mercy Convent Stockinbingal and Our Lady of Mercy Convent Goulburn where she gained her Intermediate Certificate. For nine of these school years, Marie was a boarder at the Convents, returning home to the family for the holidays. When Marie was eleven years of age and her youngest brother just fourteen months old, their mother died. At this time, the young family was cared for by their aunts and cousins. The extended family was a close knit unit and cared for one another.
After gaining her Intermediate certificate, at the age of fifteen, Marie left school and returned to the family home where she took on the role of ‘carer’ for her father, brothers and sisters. Her Catholic faith played an important part in her life. Marie found time to share her love of her faith with her family and other children. Sporting activities and family gatherings provided Marie with much enjoyment. Marie later wrote: I remained at home until my youngest brother completed his secondary education, the Leaving Certificate. Ever since I was about five years old I wanted to be a nun, but after leaving school and being involved in caring for the family, my vocation was put in the background. I did not know anything about this Congregation apart from what I read in the Annals; even then I didn’t connect it with my desire to go to the missions. I spoke of this desire to a priest and he suggested this congregation – this was reinforced by Bishop Henschke, who was Bishop of Wagga at the time. He said it wasn’t just because his sister was a member of the Congregation, but he admired the spirit of the Congregation.
Early in the year following her brother’s graduation, Marie began preparing for her entry into the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She was twenty nine years of age. In his reference, the priest in charge of Marie’s parish, St Mary’s Lochart, wrote: Marie Lynch is a young lady of excellent character. At the time of the death of her good mother, the family was very young and Marie was a ‘little mother’ and prudent advisor to them. This was the reason that she did not enter the religious life earlier. I sincerely recommend Miss Lynch as a most practical and faithful subject for religious life. I can assure you she will be very much missed in this parish where she undertook instruction of the children and other charitable deeds.
Marie entered the Postulancy at Hartzer Park, NSW. in November 1952. She was given the religious name of Sr Moira. In July 1954 Moira made her First Profession and moved to Kensington, where she assisted in the Community until 1955 when she began her nursing training at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Hospital Randwick. Upon the successful completion of the General Nursing certificate, Moira moved to Calvary Hospital Adelaide where she studied midwifery, graduating in 1970.
Moira spent several months back at Randwick in general nursing, until April 1971, when her desire to go to the missions was realized and she was appointed to the Northern Territory. . Apart from a twelve month missiology course, two years as infirmarian at the MSC Monastery and OLSH Convent Kensington and two years at St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility, Moira was to spend a total of twenty three years nursing in the Indigenous Communities of Port Keats, Bathurst Island, Daly River, Santa Teresa and Alice Springs. As well as the general nursing, Moira cared for the elderly and the dying, delivered countless babies, was responsible for Infant and Maternal health and the training of the Indigenous Health Workers. Moira was described as a gracious, caring, compassionate nurse and religious, who was committed to the service of the young, the elderly, the vulnerable and the sick. She was seen to interact with Indigenous people and was very respectful of their culture. A person, who loved much and was much loved.
In 1995, at the age of seventy two Moira’s missionary calling took another direction when her offer to go to the mission of Mapourdit in Southern Sudan was accepted. The letters received since the time of Moira’s death bear witness to her selfless commitment, dedication, compassion, nursing skills and the total giving of herself for those who are often referred to as ‘the poorest of the poor’. When Moira arrived in this refugee camp, there was no clinic or any medical assistance. Moira set up a clinic in a bamboo ‘tukul’ or hut. Her medical supplies fitted into a cardboard box. There was no running water, sanitation or refrigeration, and no means to call on specialist advice or medical support. Here Moira saved lives, lives that would otherwise have been lost; here she wept for those whose lives she was powerless to save and here she helped to bring new life into the world and provided loving care for the mothers of these tiny babies, and countless others.
In August 1996, Sr Moira, together with Sisters Mary Batchelor, Maureen Carey and three other missionaries were held captives for eleven days, by the Sudan People Liberation Army. Upon their release the Australian missionaries spent some time in Nairobi and returned to Australia to recuperate. Moira was anxious to return to Mapuordit and this she did, until ill health forced her to return to Australia. Even at this time Moira did not give up hope of once again returning to her beloved people in Mapuordit, but God had his own plans for Moira. After spending some time in the Communities at Kensington and Bowral, Moira moved to Blacktown in the Parramatta Diocese. Here she was once again able to take up her ministry amongst the Sudanese people.
Moira has been referred to as ‘The Mother Teresa of Mapuordit'. Doctor Brother Rosario a member of the Comboni Congregation, who worked with Moira in Mapuordit, has written: Sr Moira is remembered for her drive and energy, for her considerable nursing skills and for her deep, caring compassion for these people whom she really took to her own heart. Peter Mabor, a former school student at Mapuordit has also written: Sr Moira lived according to Our Lord’s teachings of healing the sick. We shall never forget her great selfless service rendered to our people during the time when our country was abandoned to the mercy of fate. She stood firm in those trying moments of our history.
There is little doubt that Moira gained her strength and resilience from her deep faith and her faithfulness to her religious calling as a Daughter of Our lady of the Sacred Heart. She truly lived and worked to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus everywhere known and loved. When God called Moira to himself last Ash Wednesday, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart would surely have lead, her beloved daughter Moira, to the Heart of her Son where, we pray that she will live in the peace and happiness of heaven, forever.
Sr Elizabeth Little FDNSC
February 25, 2015