Friday, September 15, 2006

Sister Arleen McCarty Hynes, 90; Bibliotherapy Pioneer

Sister Arleen McCarty Hynes, who pioneered the use of bibliotherapy at St. Elizabeths Federal Mental Hospital by engaging patients in literature as a process of healing and personal growth, died Sept. 5 of liver cancer at the Saint Scholastica Convent nursing home in St. Cloud, Minn. She was 90.

Sister Arleen created the first comprehensive hospital-based training for bibliotherapy and co-wrote with her daughter Mary Hynes-Berry the authoritative book "Biblio-Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process: A Handbook" in 1994. After the death of her husband, she joined the Sisters of St. Benedict in 1981, after 10 years at St. Elizabeths in the District.
After graduating with a library science degree from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn., she married Emerson Hynes. They built a house they called Kilfenora in the woods in Collegeville, Minn., near Saint John's University, where her husband taught philosophy and sociology.

A steady stream of visitors came to talk and laugh at Kilfenora, including relatives, monks and others associated with the college. The couple also hosted regular gatherings of the "Movement" -- a collection of liberal Catholic artists, writers and thinkers, including activist Dorothy Day and novelist J.F. Powers and his wife, Betty Powers.

In 1959, the family, which included 10 children, moved to Arlington when Emerson Hynes agreed to serve as legislative assistant to his former classmate, Eugene J. "Gene" McCarthy, who had been elected to the U.S. Senate.

Sister Arleen worked with a study group on Vatican II and served on the National Council on Aging. As the Virginia president of the American Association of University Women, she did a pioneering study of the role of women in 1962. When McCarthy ran for president in opposition to the Vietnam War in 1968, Sister Arleen served as the head of Volunteers for McCarthy. [snip] Read More in the Washington Post

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Sister Arleen - even in her old age, she was generous, active, and always ready to help others.

Her vocation to religious life is also remarkable. At the time she entered St. Benedict's Monastery, it was just about unheard of for communities to take anyone past 30 or perhaps 40.

It took great courage for her to enter formation after the age of 60, and equal hope and faith for the monastery to accept her. What a vibrant witness to a life lived for others.