December 7

Lynn Mertensotto Girouard ’77

Lynn Mertensotto Girouard ’77 details what creates resilience in the soul as she remembers the profound influence of former Farley Hall Rector Sr. Jean Lenz, OSF.

“Providentially, Sr. Jean Lenz, rector of Farley Hall from 1973 until 1983, was there. I visited with Sr. Jean often, seeking guidance and mentorship. She listened to me, sharing that I was not the only one feeling as I did. She gave me the confidence to try new activities, reach out my hand to others, and stand up for what I believed in, even when I was not part of the majority.”

As we journey through Advent, how can we be like dear Sr. Jean Lenz, who cherished every student in her care, extending a heart of welcome to those around us who need encouragement, accompaniment, and courage?



  1. Lynn –
    I was very excited to see someone I know share such a beautiful message this Advent season! Have a blessed Christmas and wonderful New Year!

  2. This is such a wonderful thing ND is doing. So many lives. So many stories. I cherish each of them. I will remember them as I go through my day and pass the good stuff forward. So much good stuff!!!

  3. I started at SMC that same summer if ‘73. Being the youngest child , I was very close with my parents. When they dropped me off in Southbend that August, I remember thinking… what am I doing ?? Thanks to great roommates a caring RA , and a chapel directly below our room … I grew and flourished ! Junior Year I was President of Holy Cross Hall , involved in student government, a special Education major. I was thrilled to take exchange classes at ND , as well as library, dining hall and the grotto and of course all the sports tickets !! Football, basketball , baseball, rugby ! We were Ara and Digger fans and fanatics ! My time at SMC. Molded me into the woman I am today ! I’m eternally grateful for this experience!!
    English professor for 35 years , now retired ❤️
    Melinda Hyde GIRARDI ‘77 SMC

  4. So glad and thankful Lynn had the tremendous resource and Presence of Sister Jean. May each of us have “mentors” and helpful folks in our lives as we move forward. And may we be Present with the individuals our Creator places in our paths. May each of our lives be increased with light, graces and compassion.

  5. What a lovely remembrance of our dear Sr. Jean! I lived in Farley from 1975-79 and Sr. Jean was like our mother-away-from-home. Thank you for sharing your cherished memories of her inspiration. And I loved the Sr. Jean ornament on the Christmas tree!

  6. Lynn, Thank you for sharing your sacred story about Sr. Jean’s lasting influence upon who you have become and how you choose to live. It reminds me to be more mindful about my influence on those people God places in my own life. You have, no doubt, been profoundly blessed by Sr. Jean forevermore. What a legacy!! May we all strive to do the same for others. Thank you for the inspiration to do so. A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  7. Lynn,
    Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Sr. Jean. As a resident of Farley from 1975-1979, I can only confirm what a profound effect she had on me and so many other women. She embodied faith and wisdom as she supported our growth. Most of all I will remember for kindness and the way she nurtured strength, faith, and openness in us.

  8. Hi Lynne, I loved your reflection and your comments about Sr. Jean. She was an amazing woman and your thoughts are echoed by so many who were touched by her, including myself. Thanks for reminding me of the message she shared about having faith to be who you were intended to be. Happy Advent!

  9. Dear Lynn,
    Wonder-filled memories of our dear Sister Jean who guided us so fearlessly through those early days at Farley! /perfect sacred story for Advent ! Thank you for sharing this heartfelt reflection today ! Xoxo

  10. Loved Sr Jean, she was one of a kind. She touched lives everywhere and was loved by many on campus and beyond. Obviously Sr Jean had a lasting influence in your life Lynn, thanks for sharing and carrying on her legacy.

  11. Thank you Lynn for sharing this. My ND class of 1972 was the last all male class, although SMC women could take classes at Notre Dame, and vice-versa (one of my best classes was on Thomas Merton at SMC by a wonderful Holy Cross Sister). The decision by Notre Dame to admit women in 1973 was one of their best. Thank you Sister Jean for all that you did!
    Patrick ND ‘72

  12. Lynn,
    What a wonder Sr. Jean was! Thank you for reminding us of her most often repeated message: You can be anything, but first you have to be yourself.

  13. Lynn: Sr. Jean was our Notre Dame night speaker in the Maryland Alumni club sometime in the 1980s. I remember her being very effective and she created some real thoughts in my mind on what you had to say. I can understand why she was so helpful to you.
    I noticed that your maiden name was Mertensotto, not a common name. I had father Leon Mertensotto as a professor in my business ethics course is 1965. It was a terrific course & I tried to remember the things that he taught us about Business ethics throughout my entire career, all spent in the business world. I would surmise that Fr Leon was possibly a relative of yours.

  14. Sr. Jean made Farley a home for the women who lived there. Thank you, Lynn, for your loving memories of a loving woman who guided us so gently and effectively.

  15. Thanks, Lynn, for a wonderful message! Best wishes from our family to you and yours for a blessed Advent and Christmas season!

  16. Our 4 children were ND students in the years 80 through 89 and Sr. Lenz was at Lyons Hall
    then. She was well known by then by all students.
    I met her sister-in-law at a parish bible study in the 90’s and learned of her battle with CA
    and her eventual death. She affected so many young people positively during her service
    at Notre Dame. RIP Sister Jean.

  17. Lynn….any relation to Leon Mertensotto, CSC? He was one of my absolute favorite teachers in the years
    1963-64. I worked for him, duplicating handouts, and he treated me to my first lobster at the LaSalle Grill.
    Jack McCabe ’64

  18. I lived in Farley from 2000-2003 and remember Sr. Jean so fondly. Thank you for this reflection, Lynn!

  19. Thank you, Lynn, for your message and your remembrances of Sr. Jean. I was blessed to have her as my rector, too (Class of ’82). You perfectly captured her ability to make each person she was speaking with feel valued and inspired. It was great to see her smiling face light up my computer screen this morning. Thank you!

  20. Lynn, Wonderful sharing of your memories of your introduction to ND. I also have fond memories of Sr. Jean as a beautiful caring and sharing dynamic woman of God who took many of the Farley women (Also Sue’s dorm) under her wing to protect and guide.

  21. Wondrous story! The Sister Jeans of the world are CONCRETE evidence of Jesus’ healing and sustaining power in our daily lives. Thank you…

  22. Visits with Sister Jean in her welcoming first-floor home in Farley Hall established a guidepost that I, too, have called upon all these years. Thank you, Lynne, for this Christmas reminder to serve others as she did .

  23. Merry Christmas Lynn!
    Yours was a beautiful story. I lived in Farley from 1978-1981. Sr. Jean became what I consider a real friend for many, many years after I graduated in 1982. She was a beautiful soul who helped so many women. Love the ornament. We all should strive to be more like her!
    Best to you and yours!
    Go IRISH!
    Kathy Burke ’82 Grad

  24. Thank you for your story, Lynn. As a Farley resident from 1995-99, Sr. Catherine was my rector, but I remember Sister Jean fondly. Watching your account and seeing those pictures of our dorm with a younger Sr. Jean brought back my own experiences of insecurity and homesickness during my freshman year and the journey to independent adult throughout my four years.
    Merry Christmas!
    Laurie (Kelley) Parenton ’99

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