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May 7, 2021

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Sister Rosemary Lynch, 93, founder of group against violence, dies after car hits her

Year in Photo-Justin M. Bowen

Justin M. Bowen

Rosemary Lynch (right) and Ida Antoszewska talk with Sen. Harry Reid Saturday, October 16, 2010 during the rally with the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans at Painters Hall in Henderson.

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Sister Rosemary Lynch (standing) is shown during a meeting in August 2008.

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Sister Rosemary Lynch during a 90th birthday celebration at the Nevada Test Site in 2007.

Friends say the legacy of Sister Rosemary Lynch, who died Sunday in Las Vegas at age 93, will be carried on in the many lives she touched along her journey fighting for the well-being of all people.

Lynch, who co-founded Pace e Bene, an organization promoting nonviolence, was walking with fellow Franciscan Sister Klaryta Antoszewska in their Las Vegas neighborhood Wednesday near Bartlett Avenue when a car "brushed" against her and she fell, said Jim Haber, coordinator of the Nevada Desert Experience, a movement Lynch became affiliated with tied to the Nevada Test Site.

She suffered a concussion, internal bleeding and fractures in the fall and died four days later at the hospital.

"Her legacy will be many spiritual children who have learned from her who will carry the vision of Sister Rosemary — the vision of what it means to be created in the image of God and respect each other," said longtime friend Peter Ediger, who helped co-found Pace e Bene.

Lynch wore many hats during her life — teacher, religious servant, social activist — but her mission in all roles resembled the meaning of Pace e Bene, which is Italian for "peace and good," Ediger said.

"Her passion was to find the divine in people and cultivate that," he said. "Beyond the people, she also had a deep compassion for honoring all of created life."

Born in Phoenix, Lynch became a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity community in 1932. After taking her vows in 1934, she went on to teach at a Catholic school in Los Angeles followed by a stint as principal at a high school in Montana.

From there, she went to Rome as a representative for her congregation. Her 15 years in Rome included the Second Vatican Council.

Lynch joined the staff of the Franciscan Center in Las Vegas when she returned to the United States in 1977. Once in Las Vegas, she began visiting Nevada's nuclear test site.

She was part of the first "Lenten Desert Experience" at the Nevada Test Site in 1982 to protest ongoing nuclear testing and violence. The movement later became known as the Nevada Desert Experience, which still exists today.

It was during those protests that Ediger said Lynch's character was exposed: She protested issues involving the test site — not the people on the other side of the debate, he said.

In fact, Ediger said, through her social activism, Lynch developed "very warm human relationships" with the people in support of the test site.

"In our culture, no one listens to each other," he said. "She was able to go beyond that."

Lynch retired in 2004 and became the first "Pace e Bene elder," continuing to promote nonviolence.

Haber said Lynch demonstrated her passionate personality in November when David Rovics, an acoustic performer who plays songs of social significance, visited with her.

"Some other people left as time went on, but Rosemary was so grateful for the beauty of the music and the political content that she stayed until the end," he said.

A memorial service will be held for her Jan. 23 at St. James Catholic Church, 1920 N. Martin Luther King Blvd. Memorial gifts in honor of Lynch may be sent to Franciscan Sisters Social Programs, 6517 Ruby Red Circle, Las Vegas, NV, 89108. The funds will be used for local refugee ministries, Pace e Bene and the Nevada Desert Experience.

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