For Lynn Abercrombie Gillespie '60, her work is a calling; not just a career.
Even after she graduated from St. Agnes Academy, Lynn never ventured far from her Dominican roots. Since July 2003 she has served in various positions at St. Dominic Village, a Catholic-based elder community for independent living, assisted living and long-term care in Houston for retired priests and lay people. She formerly served as the administrator for the Dominican Sisters Villa; a residential community for the local order's retired sisters.
"I didn't know it at the time, but elder care is something I've always been involved in. I was primary caregiver for both of my parents before they entered Eternal Life," Lynn said. "I treasure working with the residents of our community. I learn from their wisdom and they have so much to share, as do the (Dominican) Sisters."
Lynn began at the Village after long-term employment at St. Michael Catholic School, the University of Houston and the Cenacle Retreat House. She began as the Village's director of fund development and marketing, but then transitioned into the director of spiritual care. She planned and organized Mass schedules and sacramental requests for the residents in all facilities; planned and facilitated spiritual programs for liturgical seasons; provided spiritual direction and assisted families with funeral preparations and was coordinator for the Warren Chapel. Now, as administrator for independent and assisted living, she monitors all daily operations and needs of the residents to ensure their Village home is a place of comfort and security.
"I enjoy my work. It is my responsibility to make sure our residents are content with their environment," Lynn said. "When some residents arrive, we become their family. We are cognizant that, for many of them, this is where they will spend the rest of their days. This is a wonderful place for people to continue on their life's journey and I feel blessed to be a part of it."
A Houston native, Lynn attended St. Agnes in first through third grades before the Academy eliminated its elementary-school component. She attended St. Mary of the Purification and Holy Rosary schools before returning to St. Agnes for high school. Some of her fondest memories, including her days as the Veritas yearbook editor, are steeped in her years as a St. Agnes student.
"There's a Houston Chronicle front page picture with three of my fellow students (of our reaction) when Elvis came to Houston for the first time. Our mouths were wide open and this picture ended up on the top of a stack of papers at one of our famous paper drives," Lynn said. "We collected everything from medicine bottles to pennies to Nifty coupons and wire coat hangers for Sr. Mary James. What fun those days were!
In addition to her professional work, Lynn and Bill, her late husband, are parents to three children, Bill, Michael and Shellie. She is a cantor at local parishes and participates in choir and music programs throughout the city, including Houston Revels, Inc. Her Theresian sisters have been an integral part of her life for more than 30 years where she has served in various roles, as well as chairing the organization's national conference in Houston. She serves on the board of Documentary Alliance, a sponsor of Real Films, bringing documentaries on a wide range of subjects to the Houston area. Lynn is continuing her studies in social work, gerontology, and music.
"I am thankful to the Dominican Sisters and St. Agnes Academy for so many reasons. They gave me strong roots in my faith, taught me the value in caring for others and volunteering for causes, and shared with me the true value of social justice." Lynn said. "Social justice is a principle that we should live everyday and it applies to everyone."