Sister Mildred (Micki) Flynn

Sister Mildred (Micki) Flynn

September 4, 1937 – January 24, 2018

It's the circle of life, made with the threads of all my pasts
Flowing with the river of life and joy poured out
Centered in Notre Dame, and marked by the cross
Risen to newness in butterfly wings… (Micki Flynn, 1992)

Mildred Lauretta Flynn loved words and loved learning from an early age. Her name, however, was a bit long, and most of her life she was simply known as Micki. Mr. Flynn worked for the railroad and his job took them to rural Illinois where Micki was enrolled at Notre Dame Academy in Bourbonnais. There Micki was taught by the Congregation of Notre Dame from Montreal, Canada. Classes were small, and Micki flourished, so much so she finished grade school at the age of 12. Micki attended Notre Dame High School in Chicago, and it was there she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Micki was just 16 when she graduated. Knowing she wanted to be a teacher, Micki felt God was calling her to serve as a Sister of Notre Dame. She entered the community the following September, just four days after her 17th birthday. 

As a novice, Micki was given the name Sister Patrick Ann. She spent eight years teaching grades 1 through 6 in parish schools staffed by the community in Ohio and Illinois. By 1965 the world outside of community was changing rapidly. While Sister Patrick Ann still felt called to teach, she began to have doubts about whether or not she was called to live religious life. Those doubts led to her decision to leave the community.

Micki did not leave teaching, though. She continued to teach at Catholic grade schools in the greater-Chicago area for another seven years. Micki taught Math, Reading, Religion and English to grades 6 through 8 during that time. She also finished her B.A. at DePaul University, and with that in hand she moved to teaching English and French at the secondary level. Micki’s love for learning led her to the University of Missouri where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English. Paying for her education was a bit of a challenge. As she said, “During summers between teaching, and to work my way through school, I have worked: as a waitress, a bartender (lots of ministry there!), in direct sales and party-planning, as a bank teller, a medical secretary, a general secretary, a housekeeper and a cook.” Micki also worked as a Director of Religious Education for the Campus Parish in Columbia and had a teaching assistantship. She was recognized nationally for her accomplishments as a student at the University of Missouri – Columbia. 

Along the way, God re-awakened in Micki a sense of being called to religious life. In 1985, she re-entered the Sisters of Notre Dame and began teaching at various colleges in the Chicago area. Micki described her job search: “When I finished my doctorate, I spent five years trying to find a position at both Catholic universities and schools where I could be close to my religious community. I had nibbles, I had interviews, but South Dakota hired me.” 

“South Dakota” was South Dakota State University located in Brookings. Micki would spend 19 years there as a member of the English Department. Toward the end of her tenure, the South Dakota Board of Regents awarded Micki the title of Professor Emerita of English for her work at the university. They described how she had “… infused all of her courses with her rigor, thoroughness, enthusiasm, and sense of humor which have helped her students to understand not only the details of literature, but also the broader application of universal literary themes.” They acknowledged Micki as an innovator in the use of instructional technology in the classroom and as a model of life-long learning to both her students and colleagues through her constant updating and restructuring her courses, which included: World Literature, English Literature, Mythology and Literature, The Bible as Literature, British Romantic Literature, British Victorian Literature, Technical Communication, Technical Communication for Engineers, Great Books, European Studies and Global Studies. The Regents went on to acknowledge Micki as a caring and committed advisor of undergraduate and graduate students in the English Department, as a recognized scholar on the work of British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and as particularly effective in curriculum work – having served on the Peace Studies committee, the Honors Program Committee, and the English Department’s Graduate and Curriculum Committees that created the Gateway and Capstone courses for English majors.

Shortly after moving to South Dakota, Micki started a Master’s program in Christian Spirituality and training in spiritual direction. She involved herself in the community as well as the University. Micki taught courses to parents of children enrolled in the local CCD program, she became involved in the RENEW program, she started a women’s prayer group that met weekly, she helped start a Pax Christi chapter at the University and responded to requests to give small group and individual retreats. By the spring of 2009 she was finishing her 51st year of teaching and she made the decision to retire. As she said, “I've taught everything from first grade- through graduate students. I love teaching. And if I didn't have to grade papers, I could keep teaching.” But the long hours of grading no longer appealed to her. Moving closer to other members of her religious community and focusing her efforts on retreat work did, so Micki prepared to move to Cincinnati. At the time, one person said, “As she leaves South Dakota…I know Sr. Micki’s community will be inspired by her wit, her passion and her cooking.” 

The Sisters were not only inspired, they enjoyed Micki’s wit, her passion for life and the results of her cooking experiments. In Cincinnati, Micki focused on what she described as a ‘ministry of availability’ that included some retreat work and spiritual direction, some outreach to people trapped in poverty, some tutoring, some driving for the Sisters, and presence with her Sisters at Mount Notre Dame Health Center. Even though she spent so many years in South Dakota, Micki was an active member of the Ohio Province. She served on the Ohio Unit Assembly and the Life Development Committee. Once back in Cincinnati she became a regular presence at the Health Center: supplying treats to have with Coffee after Sunday Mass, playing scrabble, participating in book discussions and taking Sisters for Sunday rides, helping with liturgical ministries, sharing her love of poetry and playing the piano. Micki enjoyed dabbling in many creative areas. She loved her cats, and when she moved to the Health Center, she made sure she found good homes for each. No one knew that Micki herself would be called home so soon.

When Micki professed her final vows in 1992, she wrote her own vow formula. It began with these words: “Lord God, Most Holy Trinity, You have called me with Your insistent love to follow Jesus and to work for the spread of Your Kingdom of love and joy and peace. Desiring from the depth of my being to respond to that love, I stand in the presence of the Court of Heaven and this community….” Micki has once again responded to God’s call. In the Communion of Saints, she stands in the Court of Heaven and with her Sisters, family and friends as we celebrate her life. We give thanks for all the ways she made known God’s goodness to each of us and to so many others. We ask her prayers for us as she enjoys the fullness of God’s love, joy and peace. 

Bio Data
Born September 4, 1937 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: Clifford Flynn (born in Verdin, Illinois) and Evelyn Nelson Flynn Rokosz (born in Fort Dodge, Iowa)
Siblings: Mary Flynn Holland, Patty Jane Flynn, Robert Richard Flynn, William Sheridan Flynn, John Rokosz,

Baptized August 23, 1945 at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Chicago, Illinois
Confirmed October 9, 1947 at St. Aloysius Church, Chicago, Illinois

Entered September 8, 1954 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: March 9, 1957
Final Profession: August 13, 1962
Dispensation of Vows: October 2, 1965
Re-entered November 17, 1985
Profession: April 30, 1988
Final Profession: April 25, 1992 at Mt. Notre Dame

Notre Dame High School, Chicago, 1954
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from De Paul University, Chicago, Illinois, 1969
Master of Arts in English from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 1977
Doctorate in English from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 1985
Master of Arts in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, 1994

Ministries Included:
1957-1958 St. Victor School, Calumet City, Illinois
1958-1960 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1960-1962 St. Veronica School, Hamilton, Ohio
1962-1963 Immaculate Conception School, Dayton, Ohio
1963-1965 Holy Trinity School, Dayton, Ohio
1965-1967 St. Mary School, Des Plaines, Illinois
1967-1972 St. Anne School, Barrington, Illinois
1972-1975 Morgan City High School, Stover, Missouri
1975-1984 University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
1984-1988 Northern Illinois University/Newman Center, De Kalb, Illinois
1988 Loyola University, Chicago Water Tower Campus, Chicago, Illinois
1989 College of Dupage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois & De Paul University, Lewis Tower Campus, Chicago, Illinois
1988-1990 Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, Illinois
1990-2009 Associate Professor, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota
1993-2003 Spiritual Direction & Retreats, Catholic Campus Parish, Brookings, South Dakota
2009-2010 Transition, Cincinnati, Ohio
2011-2017 Ministry of Availability, Spiritual Direction & Retreats, Tutoring, Cincinnati, Ohio
2017-2018 Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died on January 24, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
January 25, 2018