Virginia Sullivan Finn, 89, Valued Faith, Women's Voices

May 19, 2020

One former western Massachusetts resident who recently died from COVID-19  is Virginia Sullivan Finn. 

One of Finn's four daughters, Leslie Sullivan Sachs, remembered her mom as "a pioneer in her life, speaking out for women within the Catholic Church who had no, to little voice."

Sachs said Finn met her future husband back in the day in Northampton's Look Park.

"I had this story in my head growing up that, you know — when you're little, you think 'Oh, the olden days' — I imagined them meeting in a horse and carriage," Sachs said.

Finn was born in 1931 at a time with great adversity and challenges.

Sachs said that later in life, her mom loved food, and treasured M&Ms.

“When I was I child, I can remember she would pour the bag of M&Ms into one of those heavy glass, crystal bowls," Sachs said. "And it was just her favorite thing to do. Just pick through the M&Ms."

Sachs said that when she was in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, in the mid-1960s, her family lived in Keene, New Hampshire, where her mother befriended Connie Daniels.

Daniels's son was the Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels, who was shot and killed in 1965 while protecting African American civil rights activist Ruby Sales.

"That had a great impact upon both of my parents," Sachs said. "And I think that that's really when they started looking for deeper meaning than what was being offered at the time, from their own faith."

Virginia Sullivan Finn in a photograph taken in her office at the Weston School of Theology.
Credit Submitted Photo

In 1969, Finn's family relocated to western Massachusetts, where she was among the founding members of a faith community.

"And over time, it became what they called the vineyard community, and hundreds of people came every week," Sachs said. "And it being the Berkshires, it was full of writers and artists and musicians and that really enriched my mother's life, and it’s really when she came into her own."

Sachs said her mother was a champion for the voices of women in religion — and blazed that trail wearing size 11 shoes.

"My mom had very long and very narrow feet, and I remember her mostly as wearing sandals whenever she could," Sachs said.

Virginia Sullivan Finn died at 89 from COVID-19 on May 2, two days after the 17th anniversary of her husband's passing.