In Memory

Sister Amy Zychal, IHM

April 3, 1948 – November 18, 2020

Sister Amy Zychal, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

She was born on April 3, 1948, in Scranton, PA; and given the name Ruth Amy. She was the daughter of the late John and Helen Swingle Zychal. She entered the IHM Congregation on August 29, 1971, and made her temporary profession of vows on August 22, 1973, and her final profession of vows on July 27, 1978.

Sister Amy served as a teacher at the following schools: Nativity of Our Lord Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1971 to 1972; Sacred Heart of Mary Elementary School in Jermyn, PA, from 1973 to 1975; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY, from 1975 to 1978; Wyoming Area Catholic Elementary School in Exeter, PA, from 1981 to 1984; LaSalle Academy in Jessup, PA, from 1999 to 2004; Bishop O’Hara High School in Dunmore, PA, from 2004 to 2006; and Holy Cross High School in Dunmore, PA, from 2011 to 2014.

Sister served as principal at the following schools: St. Patrick Elementary School in Scranton, PA, from 1978 to 1981; St. Mary Elementary School in Goldsboro, NC, from 1984 to 1987; and St. Matthew Elementary School in Wilmington, DE, from 1987 to 1992.

Sister Amy also served as director of Development for the IHM Congregation at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA, from 1992 to 1999. She was a member of the leadership team for IHM Congregation in Scranton, PA, from 2006 to 2010; case manager supervisor at Lourdesmont Youth and Family Services in Scranton, PA, from 2010 to 2011; administrative assistant at Friends of the Poor in Scranton, PA, from 2014 to 2017; and a volunteer at Friends of the Poor in Scranton, PA, from 2017 to 2020.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education/psychology from Marywood College, and a Master of Science degree in education from Bucknell University.

She is survived by a brother, Christopher of Scranton, PA; a sister, Kim of Scranton, PA; and nieces, Taryn and Chelsea. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Funeral Mass:

Combined Vespers Prayer Service:

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Spring 2021 issue

Sister Amy Zychal IHM

Reflection given by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation President, at Sister’s funeral on Monday, November 23, 2020:

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise…

Dawna Markova, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life:
Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

“A wing, a torch, a promise…” I don’t think writer Dawn Markova ever met Amy, but her words reflect perfectly for me the person, the passion, and the resolution of Amy as she lived out her seventy-two years of life. A wing: she lifted us up on the wings of her smile, her infectious laugh, her quick humor, and fun-loving, adventuresome ways. She loved to laugh, even at herself; her teasing was deft but never out of malice. She used to say she never met a party she didn’t like, and she was more often than not the life of those parties. Her inclusive spirit reached out and drew all present into her circle of joy. A torch: her passion burned bright as a torch as she shared her many talents as an educator, development director, congregation leader, case worker, and volunteer assisting the most vulnerable. Her commitment was unbending; she was impatient to get things right, whether it was for a student who needed extra help or a family needing assistance cutting through agency red tape to find an affordable place to live. Her determination was electric! More than a few of us experienced firsthand the fire of her passion at least once or twice. In the same breath she could and would disagree and holler at you and then end up thanking and praising you. But again, we knew it wasn’t personal with Amy – and usually we found out that her
passion, her fire, illuminated what was deep within ourselves, our values and beliefs, and called us to our own true, better selves. A promise: Amy had an enormous capacity to give of herself, and that was her promise to God, to us, and to herself throughout her life. She understood deeply that love of God and love of others is what truly matters, and she lived her life absolutely committed to that purpose. Her life of integrity, joy, and service has left a lasting and profound impact on countless children, parents, educators, and all with whom she ministered and lived.

So today we give gratitude for the unique and wonderful life of Amy and the countless ways she shared that life and love with us. Her passion for education and for the poor took her to schools in Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and Delaware. She was the “ultimate” educator who possessed the extraordinary gift of being able to connect with even the most difficult students, parents, staff, and teachers wherever she went. She honestly loved both the challenge and the rewards of teaching equally, and her energy, humor, genuineness, and administrative skills won the respect and hearts of those with whom she ministered. Those same qualities were the hallmark of her years as the first ever IHM development director, during her term in congregational leadership as a councilor for missioning and community life, and while serving at Friends of the Poor. There are so many
“Amy” stories we could all share that illustrate her numerous gifts and talents and especially her larger than life exuberance that energized and, yes, challenged us, and made us laugh at the mystery of life itself. She was a true and loyal friend who honored and nurtured her friendships with her kind and generous soul. We have been blessed to know her.

We give abundant thanks to God for the gift of Amy’s life among us and celebrate the beginning of her eternal life with her God in heaven. We remember today very specially her parents, Helen and John. What a wonderful reunion they, along with Joan Coyne and so many of her sister friends, surely enjoyed last Wednesday when Amy arrived in heaven! Of course, knowing Amy, none of those who greeted her, including God, had a chance to say much before she surely gathered everyone together in a great party, with much singing and laughing and story-telling and dancing. I have no doubt the party is still going on.

Amy’s joyful spirit came from a family who loved and nurtured her and who instilled in her a deep faith in and love of God and others. Her love for her family was deep and unconditional, and she took very seriously her role as family head after the deaths of her parents. We hold in our prayer today very specially Kim, Chris, Chelsea, and Taryn. We pray too for Mary Rita, Sandy, Kathy, and Joyce, the members of her Mission Circle, her many IHM sisters and associates, her co-workers, and all those with whom she shared life.

For sure, Amy did not die an unlived life. Her living did loosen her heart to become a wing, a torch, and a promise. She enlivened each of these words with vitality and meaning that reach deep into our souls this day. Her laugh, her generous heart, her spirit, her passion – images of her so real and dear to us that we find it hard to grasp that she is gone. Yet our faith reassures us today that Amy is enjoying the fullness of God’s eternal love and joy and that her love and joy lives within each of us. Her name is carved forever on our hearts.

So as we begin this celebration of thanksgiving for Amy’s life, I now ask Sandy to place the scriptures on Amy’s casket, for indeed Amy heard the Word of God, she staked her life upon it and received life to the full… the Word now beckons her home.

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