FAMOUS FACES AT SACRED HEART
A Month’s Mind Reflection on Sister Peg Hynes
by Gail Gooney (January 21, 2003)
The second reading for Sister Peg is a favorite of mine and I am very glad it was read tonight. It is from the Mass of the Sacred Heart. One of its lines is this: “May God strengthen you inwardly through the working of his Spirit.” Now that’s the Spirit that I need to stand up here and speak to you. The fact that I am doing this surely means that Sister Peg is helping me.
In this Month’s Mind Mass for her, Father Michael felt that a woman should speak. And so here I am.
The first reading chosen for this Mass is also a favorite of mine – it is known to many as The Valiant Woman. I don’t feel valiant at the moment but it is surely a good reading as we honor Peg. She was a valiant woman. I say that because I knew her well. I saw what she did and how she did it.
I was here at Sacred Heart about four years when Tim and I first met her after she came in 1986. We had worked with Sister Marge Sullivan at the Christmas baskets and we were able to help Peg a little bit when she took over for Marge. We got to know each other among the baskets in the cafeteria. We realized right away that she was a worker. She could direct things well and asked no one to do anything that she wouldn’t do herself. If you weren’t doing it fast enough, she would jump in and do it in no time. From the baskets, we went on to help her with the Celtic Spring Concert, the Fall Concert, and the great Golf Tournament. But it wasn’t all work and no play with Peg. She always organized well with breaks and treats and some fun. So over the past 16 years, we did a lot together.
She became not only a worker with Tim and me but a dear friend too.
She would drop in to our home on her way from work or something and would eat with us or watch a ball game. She did notice that Tim was not a Phillies Fan which amazed her. It was beyond her understanding, but she looked at Tim as a brother and inspite of his coolness to the Phillies set out to prove that he was related to her. They both shared relatives in Derrybrian, County Galway. She worked hard at that but didn’t prove it.
Peg found ways to be related in some way to nearly anyone you would mention because of schools or neighborhoods or parishes.
She did, to her delight, prove that she was related to Jim Delaney. He was connected to people in Gort, County Galway, where her parents came from.
Peg loved her family and was surely brought up well and was greatly loved by her mother and father. She always talked about her father’s trolley and she loved to listen to the bell he rang as he got near his home. When his daughters heard it, they ran with a snack to him.
A good ten times since I’ve known her, she mentioned how sad she always was that she was unable to get to her mother’s funeral. She was in the convent. It was a great sacrifice for her. Very painful. But she bore it and went on. Her sisters and her sisters’ children, she just loved them. They were truly her own. She always used the word “our” as she referred to them.
Peg had a great sense of humor and like the Valiant Woman “She was clothed with strength and dignity and laughed at the days to come.” And she could laugh at herself. A perfect example is the time she went to a reception at Prudential. It was somewhere in North Jersey – Tim had been a board member of The Heart of Camden and through his connections to Prudential was able to get donations for several years through his volunteer efforts for the Heart of Camden. Then the three of us would go up together but once when we were away, Peg drove up by herself. In the morning she had thrown a pair of shoes under the seat of her car and when she was almost there, she pulled out the shoes and slipped them on. Well, they hurt the whole time she was there. Stopping for gas on the way home, she looked down at her aching feet and her shoes. She had two left shoes on. One flat and one with a small heel the two feet were pointed in the same direction.
But it wasn’t to her feet that one looked for direction but to her head and her heart, above all her example. She was surely a role model. Christian to Christian, person to person. For me she was a very good role model. She was a good Christian also.
She loved being a woman. She really loved being a woman. She surely had her mothering instincts. I would say she looked after little people and she looked after big people too. She would make sure they had everything. Refrigerators, washers, dryers; made sure they had blankets. Made sure the children had clothes and shoes. She was very caring that way. As they reading put it: “She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.” She made sure the children had toys too, a ball, a book, a doll. She was always generous. What ever she got, she shared. She even saved up the little money she had for herself to sponsor a child in our school. And she would hand me her envelope – 300 dollars in cash. She would personally bring it to our home or give it to me at the rectory. She always wanted a child from the Heart of Camden families. She had Talira De Clemente since Kindergarten. Sixth grade now. She loved to get the pictures of her child. Indeed, the day before her accident, she went over and brought two Barbie dolls to her. Talira’s mother said: “She was extremely kind to our family.” She was Christ to many families. As the Second reading says so well: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith and may charity be the root and foundation of your life.” That was surely true of Peg. Charity was the root and foundation of her life.
And like Jesus, she suffered much in the last years. She suffered greatly and yet she wouldn’t let it hold her down. She should have taken time. After all, she went through with her breast cancer, etc, but she refused to take the time to recover. She didn’t want to give that time up. Maybe she thought she didn’t have the time. Who knows! Any way, she didn’t take enough time to heal herself.
That knee of hers bothered her so much. Everyone let her sit in the front of the car so that she could have more room when the seat was put all the way back. It didn’t stop her from dancing. She danced at Quyen’s wedding. We took her up there – her knee was hurting but she got up and danced.
But she had her fears. She would call the house: “Say a prayer for me. I’m not saying anything to my family but I’m going to the doctor on Thursday” because she found this or that. I think she had a lot of fears but she kept on plugging. I don’t know how she did it. The last couple of years were hard but she was faithful in coming to work. Did not feel well but she would work. Like the Valiant Woman “her light was undimmed.” She was so looking forward to the trip to California. I know she was getting to accept all that had happened in the last two years.
Sister Peg Hynes was very holy, I thought. She was really good. Her religious life was very important to her, but she was not above us. She could have fun, She was very close to the earth and yet she had that part of her that was so special and so sacred. She was very human and like the rest of us had fun. I know that in her “Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” She deserves the best one. She wasn’t above us. She was one of us. I really loved her.
This is the text of Gail Gooney’s “months mind” reflection presented at Mass one month after Sr. Peg’s death.