Gay Lynch, PhD

Gay Lynch

Assistant Professor, Religion and Philosophy
[email protected]


Gay Lynch’s interest in the study of religion began when she was a third grade student in
1946, right here at Dominican University, then called Dominican Convent. Even at the age of
eight, she was intrigued with the mystery of religious practices to which the loving Dominican
sisters exposed her. Gay began her college career at the age of 50 in 1988. Her first class
at UC Berkeley was “World Religions.” This class enchanted her. Twelve units before she
was to graduate from Berkeley with a BA in Religious Studies, her youngest son Andrew died
suddenly in his sleep in 1991. Her Berkeley professors encouraged her to continue her studies
at Harvard Divinity School, where she studied cross-cultural responses to death. Following
the completion of her Master’s degree at Harvard, Gay returned home to the West Coast,
where she completed her doctoral degree in the Cultural and Historical Study of Religion at the
Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Dr. Lynch joined the Dominican adjunct faculty in 1996, following her Master’s work at Harvard.
She has been teaching at Dominican since that time. She has been married to John Lynch since
1962. They have two surviving children - a daughter, Lindsay Lynch Lytle, and a son, John Lynch
- who have gifted them with six grandchildren. The death of her son Andrew has proven to be
the ultimate impetus for her advanced academic degrees in the Academy. Her commitment
to the students at Dominican University runs deep. Her passion in the classroom is a fusion of
serious scholarship with concrete experiences of her students’ lives.


Ph.D., Cultural and Historical Study of Religions, Graduate Theological Union; Berkeley, California, 2005.

M.T.S., Religions of the World, Harvard University, The Divinity School; Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995.

B.A., Religious Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1992.

Courses taught

  • The Power of Compassion and Forgiveness
  • Religions of Asia
  • Myth, Symbol, and Ritual
  • Honors World Religions
  • Dance and Spiritual Expression: Rhythmic Bodily Movement and the Religious Life
  • The Rhetoric of Belief
  • Death, Ritual, and Rebirth
  • Poetry of the Natural World (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)


  •  “’Why Do Your Eyes Not Run Like A River?’: Ritual Tears in Ancient and Modern Greek Funerary Traditions,” Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination,
    ed. Kimberley Christine Patton and John Stratton Hawley (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 67-82.   
  • “do not go and leave me behind unwept…’: Greek Gravemarkers Heed the Warning,” Markers XX: Annual Journal of the Association of Gravestone Studies, 2003: 280-299.     
  •  “’Cold Pastoral!’: Reflections on a Charonian Lékythos,” Persephone: A Students’ Journal for the Classics at Harvard University, Spring 2001 (5:2): 50- 58.         
  •   “Contemporary Gravemarkers Of Youths: Milestones Of Our Path Through Pain To Joy,” Markers XII: Journal of the Association of Gravestone Studies, 1995: 144-159.