For The Catholic Messenger
SINSINAWA, Wis. — Davenport native Sister Kathy Flynn, OP, made her perpetual profession with the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa on Dec. 16 during Mass in Queen of the Rosary Chapel at the community’s motherhouse.
A chance meeting with Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laura Goedken, OP, inspired Flynn to learn more about religious life. Sr. Goedken, former director of development for the Diocese of Davenport, suggested that Flynn attend Dubuque’s Got Sisters, a weekend event designed for women contemplating religious life. Flynn participated in the weekend and has followed the path that she believes God has laid out for her. She entered the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation in 2012 from Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
During five years of formation, Sr. Flynn finished her undergraduate degree at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., and served in ministries focused on the needs of women and children living on the margins or dealing with mental health issues or addiction. She has served in Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington and Iowa. At present, she serves at Opening Doors in Dubuque, Iowa, as education employment case manager.
“I learn from the people who I get to know and work with. I’m grateful for them. Most of the women I have worked with in these places are so transparent and authentic. They make no bones about where they are in their lives or why. I want to be more like that,” Sr. Flynn said.
Her advice to other women considering religious life is to listen deeply to their inner selves. “Don’t ignore it. The Spirit speaks to people all the time, in all walks of life, at all ages,” she said. Find a spiritual companion or someone who can help make a connection with different congregations of women religious, she added. Sr. Flynn considers her path to religious life a mystery. She knew she had a yearning for something more; she just didn’t know what. Now, she embraces her perpetual profession.
Being part of the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation has offered Sr. Flynn what she describes as valued and unexpected outcomes. “I have unconditional love and support,” she said. “Being part of this congregation has helped me be the best person I can be.”
As a Dominican sister, she also embraces her membership in the worldwide Dominican family, known as the Order of Preachers. “There is a sense of deepening connections to the wider world, to everybody.”
Leading up to her profession of final vows, Sr. Flynn had a question: Is it final profession or perpetual profession? In an article posted Oct. 1 on the Sinsinawa Dominicans’ Catherine’s Café blog (catherinescafe.blogspot.com), Sr. Flynn reflected on the two terms used to identify this vow in religious life.
“Final and perpetual can mean the same thing. In reality, for me, there is a big difference in the sound, meaning and intentionality of those words. One definition of ‘final’ is ‘finishing, end, terminating’ (kaput!). On the other hand, one definition of ‘perpetual’ is ‘never ending or changing’ (a fidelity to discernment).
“For me, final is harsh and linear in comparison to perpetual, which seems more integrated and whole, representing a dynamic and ongoing conversation with God, rather than, At last, I’ve reached my goal. . . .”
(To learn more about the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, visit their website at www.sinsinawa.org.)