Leadership is a gift of service. In religious life it is a complex task of caring, organising, encouraging, challenging and finding the path by walking the particular stretch of road that comes up while you are in that role. It’s not a job you can set aside as you go home, because these people are your life companions. It is not a job that you apply for. It is a call you accept and do the best you can to give it all that you can.
Margaret Mary Flynn finishes six years of this service to the Australian and South East Asian province of the IBVM. To take it up the role of Province leader, Margaret Mary left a much loved and very effective ministry in Catholic Social Welfare in Forbes and western New South Wales, where she was on the front line in developing services for rural and indigenous people. During her time as province leader, she has tirelessly brought her many gifts to this challenge. In particular she has devoted much energy to the legal, financial and organisational setting up of Loreto Ministries, to serve and support the Loreto Schools and other works of the province into the future. This has required constant dialogue with chairs of school councils and background work in selection and formation of new people who have accepted generously the call to serve in a variety of ways.
In the forefront of her planning and concern, Margaret Mary has kept a focus on East Timor and Vietnam, where new members and new missions are developing. She established in the Philippines a novitiate that can serve possible new members from different sectors of our far-flung province, and women from other provinces. She has found ways to upgrade our communications with the wider public and has worked tirelessly to ensure that clear processes are in place to enable future province leaders to both be engaged with what is happening but also to be freed by having professionally skilled co-workers to carry forward the management and planning. During this time she has also served the wider church by her presence on boards and professional committees.
But on another side, perhaps only members of her council would have seen Margaret Mary’s high level of concern for the sisters themselves. A range of ideas, plans and initiatives have been constantly called into service to support our wellbeing and active participation in ministry. As new arrangements have been needed for our older and more fragile members, she has felt deeply as we grappled with each change that has been required of women who have given their lives in service to God and others, seeking new ways to give opportunities for spiritual and personal support.
As we welcome Wendy Hildebrand into this role in our province, we can say a strong thank you to Margaret Mary. She has served us with love and every gift she has. We have been blessed to have her at the helm during this time of change.
Words: Christine Burke IBVM
Please enjoy below a pictorial timeline highlighting a snapshot of Margaret Mary Flynn’s achievements