Home / Stories / Donor Story: The Simple Life and Legacy of Daniel Lynch

Donor Story: The Simple Life and Legacy of Daniel Lynch

Daniel Lynch

Franciscan Mission Service is grateful for the support of our donors from around the world and of all walks of life.This is the story of one supporter who has recently inspired us.

Daniel Lynch lived a long life of simplicity and service.

The New Jersey man refused to let people take him out for dinner because he said it cost too much. He only took three vacations in his whole life. Again, he thought that they cost too much, and that instead he could give the money to the poor or have Masses said.

The only vacations the meter reader for the Public Service Electric and Gas Company ever took were to accompany his widowed mother on little trips that she wanted to take.

“I think that he saved so much because he was raised in a very poor but happy home,” his niece, Ann Hunter, said.

When Daniel was four, his father died of pneumonia, and so Daniel’s mother supported the family by cleaning bank offices and schools in the morning and sewing at night. She also took on a renter to make ends meet.

Daniel never married and lived the rest of his life in that house, oiling the original wooden gutters to make them last. He always made himself available to help others, and his extended family used to sing, “Dan, Dan, the fix-it man. If he can’t fix it, no one can!” His great-nieces and –nephews delighted in the simple gift of balloons he would bring them.

In his neighborhood, Daniel became friends with the widows because he would cut their grass and shovel their snow. Whenever his roses were in bloom, he would pick them and leave them in the door knobs of neighbors in the two blocks he walked on his way to daily Mass.

“He didn’t just go to Mass every day, he lived his faith,” Ann said.

Other lay Catholics have the opportunity to live and grow in faith with Franciscan Mission Service thanks in part to Daniel’s legacy. After 93 years of living simply, Daniel left behind enough money upon his death in May 2011 to set up a $1 million foundation. His niece has chosen to give Franciscan Mission Service $3,000 of it annually.

“There is something really special about being supported by someone who lived the Franciscan values,” Kim Smolik, executive director, said. “It’s moments like these when I’m reminded of the impact that donors have on our organization because their examples inspire us to continue our mission of simplicity and service.”

Daniel’s niece Ann, a long-time supporter of FMS, decided to continually give in her uncle’s honor not just because of her love of St. Francis, but because her deep belief in our work–especially the opportunities we provide for young Catholics to go mission.

“They’ll be changed for the rest of their lives by that time of volunteering, and it keeps on giving. It’ll change their family, it’ll change their friends, it’ll change the people they’ll work with,” Ann said. “Once you know poverty, you can’t go back to the way you were before.”

To make a lasting impact through a donation to Franciscan Mission Service, please visit our website.

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

The blog is maintained by the communications staff.