Sister Paula (Louise St. Jude) Tinlin

Sister Paula Tinlin, SNDdeN, grew up in South Boston, and was the youngest of seven children. Her family was a member of St. Augustine Parish. The Parish had a parochial school staffed by Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. However, the school was full and so Sister Paula and her siblings attended public school. She first encountered the Sisters at her Sunday School, where they served as teachers. She found herself attracted to the Sisters and their lifestyle and asked the Principal of the parochial school, herself a SND, if if might be possible for her to attend. To her surprise, the Principal called Sister Paula's mother and informed her that there was indeed room!

Sister Paula knew that she wanted to be a Sister from a young age. "My Confirmation Day was on April 8, and I recall receiving a prayer card of St. Julie Billiart, which I felt was a 'sign,'" she reflects. "Like most young girls, I kept that 'secret desire' in my heart until graduating high school, after which I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame novitiate in Ipswich, August 1, 1963."

Her first mission was as an elementary school teacher at Our Lady of Presentation School in Brighton, Massachusetts. Here she lived in a convent with twenty Sisters, most of them recent entrants. She loved being part of that community, with a Superior who she recalls as open, kind-hearted, and ready to go with the 'sign of the times' initiated by the Second Vatican Council.

This was also a time of great tumult in the Church and in Religious life. Sister Paula recalls that many Sisters left "because things weren't changing fast enough, or were changing too fast." Many of the Sister's schools closed during this time of upheaval. During this time, Sister Paula pursued a Master's Degree in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Emmanuel College. She became a Religious Education Coordinator at a Parish where the Sister's had recently closed a school. This ministry, which involved visiting hospitalized parishioners, led Sister Paula to her next ministry, and to training as a Pastoral Minister.

Sister Paula reflects that each of her ministries had "its own gifts, grace, and challenges." Of all her ministries, the one she is most thankful for is her time as a Hospital and Hospice Chaplain. "Being invited into another's life at a time when they are open, vulnerable, and searching for where and how God is in their lives," she says, "is humbling and rooted in the faith that God's Spirit is present, embracing both the patient and the minister who hopes and prays to be a sign and a witness of God's loving Presence."

"At the time of my Jubilee," she reflects, "I am most grateful for the gift of life, having had a serious health issue that might have had a different outcome. I am deeply grateful for the Community of the Sisters of Notre Dame whose love, prayer, and support carried me through the journey, and for the love and prayers of my family. One of my favorite thoughts from scripture is: 'What you have received as a gift, give as a gift.' I hope to simply share the gift of my life and presence as it unfolds… nothing earth shattering or dramatic!"

Watch this video, taken at the time of Sister Paula's 60th Jubilee:

Watch this video, taken at the time of Sister Paula's 60th Jubilee, in which she reflects on what gives her hope.

Sister Paula Tinlin, pictured with several of her fellow Jubilarians, at the 2023 Jubilee Celebration at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass.