School volunteer honored

Sally Lynch is named
Volunteer of the Year

Record Assitant Editor

Sally Lynch, known as “Aunt Sally” to students at John Paul II Academy on Goldsmith Lane, has volunteered in Catholic schools for more than 30 years.

Sally Lynch, the Archdiocese of Louisville's Volunteer of the Year.

She’s best known for her
upbeat outlook —she has a seemingly irrepressible smile
— and her efforts to teach children to live their faith.

For her service, Lynch was named the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Volunteer of the Year for 2012. She received
the award Jan. 31 during the Catholic Schools Week Mass.

Leisa Schulz, superintendent of Catholic schools, described Lynch as gregarious, outgoing and enthusiastic about her faith. She was selected for the award because of her many years of service and, more specifically, “because of the wonderful connection she
makes to the students through the faith formation and religious education program at John Paul II Academy,” Schulz said.

“She is highly involved in
the Step by Step (stewardship) program at John Paul II Aca-

demy,” Schulz said. “She has established wonderful relationships with the children there and she doesn’t lose track of them.”

Lynch has been helping to prepare children for confirmation for years and she has sponsored 30 candidates since 1976. She’s sponsoring her 31st and 32nd candidates who will be confirmed next week. And two more young people have already asked her to be their sponsor next year.

“I don’t think there’s any higher complement that an adult can be given than being asked to be a confirmation sponsor,” Schulz said, noting that Lynch takes the responsibility very seriously.

“When (her confirmands) are ready to go to college, she takes them to lunch and she talks to them about staying in touch with her and with a church community,” Schulz added.

Lynch has also started a project to help some of those she sponsored — now adults — who have fallen away from the church. A few have told her they’re not sure if they believe God exists.

That revelation spurred her to action. Last fall, Lynch wrote to every Archdiocese of Louisville priest and asked each of them how they know God exists. She’s received more than 50 responses —out of about 120 requests — and she intends to compile them in a book. Among those who responded was the late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly who wrote to her on Nov. 22 —a few weeks before he died.

“The response has been fabulous,” said Lynch, who plans to begin compiling the book this spring.

Sally Lynch, right, gives a pep talk to eighth-grader Desirae Phelps during a “night in a box” stewardship program conducted at St. Barnabas Church Feb. 11. Lynch helps to lead several efforts for confirmation candidates at John Paul II Academy where she serves as a volunteer. (Record Photos by Marnie McAllister)

Lynch started volunteering in the former St. Barnabas School office when her eldest son was a first-grader, more than three deacdes ago. She started by helping to run copies. When the school closed in 2006, she moved with the students to the new John Paul II Academy.

Her efforts have evolved in the last three decades. She stopped running copies years ago. These days, she spends her time with students, nurturing crops of eighth-graders, year after year, as they prepare for Confirmation.

She helps to lead the school’s Confirmation retreat. And she helps to organize service experiences for the candidates, such as the “night in a box” program in which students spend a night at the St. Barnabas gym in cardboard boxes with no food or heat. It’s an effort to help them understand a little about what people who are homeless might endure.

The latest “night in a box” was held last weekend and eighth-grader Michael Bu-chanan took part.

“It was very humbling,” he said of the experience. “I didn’t really think about homeless people everyday, but now I really think about them. Like today,” he said during an interview Monday, “it’s freezing out there. She’s brought that to our attention. She teaches us a lot.

“She’s kind of a mother to us,” he added. “She’s kind and she keeps us in line. If there’s something we don’t want to talk to our parents about, we can talk to her.”

Lynn Wilt, the school principal, said Lynch is a blessing to the students.

“She’s an aunt to all of us,” she said. “Her enthusiasm and dedication has just been constant. At any time you can pick up the phone and Sally will be there for you. She epitomizes our mission and vision truly.”

Lynch said her dedication is rooted in a “very strong Catholic faith” that she received from her parents. And her husband, Chuck Lynch, supports her efforts in everyway, she said, noting that such stewardship is integral to their faith.

“I’ve been blessed that I’ve been able to stay at home and volunteer,” she said. “It’s something Chuck and I believe in. He loves that my time is shared with the church.”

Lynch said she’s felt compelled to give whatever she could since she was a sixth-grader at St. James School in the Highlands. A priest visited her class one day and gave each child a quotation which they had to explain to the class. Hers was “Of he who hath much; much will be required,” she said.

“I’ve always taken that very seriously and so does Chuck,” she said.

In addition to her volunteer work in Catholic schools, Lynch also volunteered in the parish office at St. Barnabas for 20 or so years. She helped to lead a children’s choir called Heaven Bounders and she takes pictures at events around the school and parish, including baptisms.

But her heart is happiest when she’s with the kids, she said.

“There’s just a bond,” she explained. “It’s always a joy to go over there. The school is so welcoming and appreciative.”

The work also helped to affirm her own faith, she said.

“If I have ever had a doubt, those doubts are gone,” Lynch said. “I see God working in the youth.”

(The Record 2.16.12)

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