Sally Rynne, '52, (left) supporting the Black Lives Matter cause and her on-going work for peace.
Sally (Fitzgerald) Rynne, class of ’52, has many peacemaking heroes and the first one she names is Dorothy Day, a fellow Catholic who is now on track for sainthood. She lists off others ranging from Nelson Mandela to Jane Addams and makes sure to include her husband, Terry Rynne, with whom she began a foundation dedicated to peace and the empowerment of women.
Sally and Terry raised six children and she credits the experience with raising her consciousness about peacemaking. “I believe that my first awareness that there was an alternative to violence was in raising my family,” she reflects. “I made a conscious decision to forego ‘spanking’ as a parent, recognizing that there was a better way. In those days, that was a decision that went against the cultural parental norms in my world.”
In addition to raising children, Sally also taught at the high school level, having received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Mundelein College. Over the years, she became convinced of the need for peacebuilding as a central component of education. She later entered the health care field, starting her own company in 1984 centered on women’s health and publication of health information. “My feminist identity grew through the years,” notes Sally, “and leads me to work to remove barriers that discriminate against women. I believe that is peacebuilding.”
She eventually sold her business in 2005 and her husband sold his, as well. Together (pictured at left), they decided to put the money into a foundation dedicated to peace and the empowerment of women. They collaborated with Marquette University and created the Center for Peacemaking.
They chose a Catholic university because of the deep connections between faith and peacebuilding. Along the way, Sally earned a Master’s degree in Theology from McCormick Theological Seminary and her husband earned a doctorate in Theology from Marquette. She notes how one’s faith can be a rich resource for peacebuilding. Her husband, Terry, wrote a book titled Jesus Christ Peacemaker. It “makes all the connections—extremely important,” notes Sally.
It is clear that for Sally, the values of peace found in one’s faith are meant for the world. When asked what she would say if she had 30 seconds to talk with the President of the United States about peacebuilding, she believes she would simply say, “Please read the statement of Pope Francis on January 1, 2017 regarding peace.”
If she could recommend one or two simple things someone could do to support peacebuilding, the educator in Sally says, “Study.” She recommends looking into “books, films, college courses, parish groups, nonviolence training programs, etc.” She recognizes how important it is to learn “about what has been effective in the past, how to establish habits, what is currently happening and what groups to join/support.”
Sally remembers, “When my brother marched in Cicero with Martin Luther King, I felt great admiration and inspiration for the work of peacemaking.” It is clear that this alumna has channeled the inspiration from this and other moments into a lifelong dedication to that most precious value: peace.