“There is such a sense of welcome here that’s incredible,” said Sister Catherine Lynn, TOR, returning to the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus for the first time in 20 years.
Two decades ago, Lynn was assigned to the main campus and has come back to aid the students of Franciscan as a chaplain in St. Thomas More Hall.
Lynn appreciated the warm welcome she received upon arrival. “It’s so genuine and not superficial. I think that’s just (a) really powerful witness to Christ’s love,” she said. “It’s been actually overwhelming for me. … People have been incredible.”
Lynn joined the TOR sisters in 1996. Like most students at Franciscan, she spent her college years discerning God’s call for her.
“(I was) praying with Scripture a lot. It seemed to me like what I was hearing from the Lord was ‘spousal’ and about being married to him,” she said. “I actually didn’t understand what that might mean. And, one day, it just occurred to me, ‘Gosh, I wonder if I’m supposed to be a nun or something? Like, that would be so weird.’”
Upon that thought, Lynn visited a community of religious sisters and began to read some Church documents. When it came to a particular document about the religious life, she said that “whoever wrote that was reading my journal.” Growing up in a culture without religious sisters, Lynn didn’t know much about the religious life.
“The Holy Spirit … I know it sounds kind of trite, but (he) really taught me directly about what religious life was,” she said. “Initially, I was not crazy about the idea, at all.” But, with the documents and regular Eucharistic adoration, her heart turned more toward aligning her will with God’s will.
Upon visiting a community of sisters, Lynn felt right at home. She felt it was just the right balance between prayer and ministry work. “It seemed like the right place, overall,” said Lynn. “23 years later, here I am.”
Throughout her life, Lynn has always noticed that people would tend to confide in her and trust her with things that they wouldn’t casually share with just anyone. This gift was key in Lynn’s development as a spiritual director.
“Once I was in the community, I got some training and spiritual direction in Florida at the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence,” she explained. “Just helping people hear God’s voice, and trusting that’s what they’re hearing, and discerning… God’s voice… and growing in confidence in that — to me, that’s like the absolute best part of it.”
When illustrating what’s important about spiritual direction, Lynn said that praying with Scripture transforms people’s lives. “That was so key for me,” she said.
She highly recommends praying with Scripture, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament, for it has changed her life, and she’s seen it change the lives of others. “The combination of the Eucharist and praying with God’s word is just so, so fruitful,” said Lynn.
Lynn urges the women of St. Thomas More Hall to stop by her office and say hello. She loves reading classic literature, playing board games and cards with her fellow sisters, listening to movie soundtracks once in a while and looking up at the night sky.
She encourages students to introduce themselves if they see her around campus, as she would love to meet them. “I do, generally, just love people and getting to know people,” she said. “I just never get enough of that.”