Betty Lynch Pilot photo/ Courtesy Betty Lynch
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PEPPERELL -- Anyone who has ever gone through a parish merger knows it can have its ups and downs.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Betty Lynch, parishioner at Our Lady of Grace Parish. The parish, which was just established in July 2009, is the union of two parishes: St. Joseph in Pepperell and St. James in Groton, whose parishioners come from three towns: Groton, Pepperell and Dunstable.
As part of the Pastoral Transition Team, Lynch has tried to make the transition as smooth as possible for all three communities.
“It’s going to be a long process,” she said, “though I can’t say enough how wonderful our pastor Father Paul (Ring) has been through it all.”
According to Lynch, Father Ring has continued to celebrate Mass in each of the church buildings in order to reach all his parishioners.
“He rushes around between towns,” she said, adding that the parish is currently looking to purchase land in a central location to build a new building that can accommodate all the parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish.
“I think that if we find land soon that will be a major hurdle that’s overcome,” she said.
In addition to her work on the Pastoral Transition Team, Lynch, 64, is a daily Mass-goer. She is also a greeter, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a 6th grade religious education teacher and a member of the parish pastoral council. She participates in the parish ARISE program and in a prayer group.
Once a month, she and four other volunteers cook for the seniors at the Pepperell Senior Center.
“You could say I’m a very involved parishioner,” she said with a chuckle, adding that although she is permanently disabled, “I’m lucky that I’m mobile enough to do all these things.”
Being involved in her parish in nothing new, she said.
As a young child growing up in Pepperell, Lynch always felt “at home” in her parish -- then-St. Joseph in Pepperell.
“Both my parents were disabled,” she explained. “My brother and I always felt like the church was a home for us -- even when we were very young.”
Lynch also always felt a strong affinity to the Virgin Mary, she said. She recalled that her mother would often tell her that she entrusted her to the care of the Blessed Mother when she was born.
“I think she listened to my mother when I was born and has been with me ever since,” she said. “She has always been a huge part of my life.”
“I always have felt a strong love for God, and a strong desire to serve God. And I have always felt a strong love for His people and a strong desire to serve His people,” she added.
Being a part of Our Lady of Grace, which she described as “an exciting place to be,” helps her to do just that.
“People are always the most important things, not money, not anything else,” she declared.
She lauded her pastor, Father Ring, for the way he “lives his life 100 percent for God in everything he thinks and does.”
“Father is a confidante, a confessor and a very dear friend,” she said.
Our Lady of Grace Parish, Pepperell, Dunstable and Groton
Year established -- 2009
Pastor -- Father Paul L. Ring
Deacon -- Michael J. Markham
Pastoral Associate -- Jeanne Shanley-DiPietro
Religious Ed. Directors -- Carol Fennell, Jackie Maguire
Business Manager -- Debbie Lackey
Music Director -- Eugene Bartos
Administrative Assistants -- Pauline Guerin, Elaine LaMachia