Mary Louise Ryder Larkin '74 and Thomas P. Larkin '73
be a humanitarian at BC
Mary Lou Larkin has always known her destiny lay in humanitarian work. “Every job I’ve ever had has been serving poor and underserved populations,” says the pediatric nurse practitioner. She and her husband, Tom, while pursuing their careers and raising four children, ran spiritual retreats for teens, ministered to prisoners, and dreamed of becoming lay missionaries.
“Through our parish, we started off teaching CCD to little children, which brought us to leading teen retreats, and then to running retreats focusing on the mother-child relationship for prisoners at the local federal correction institute. That’s how we met Sherman Malone, now secretary of Haiti Marycare, who was working with mothers and children in Haiti and trying to help them get basic medical care. Next, we went to Haiti and found ourselves giving more of ourselves than we knew we had,” Tom recalls.
The Larkins made their first trip to the remote fishing village of Jacquesyl, Haiti, in 1999. Today, Mary Lou is medical director and Tom is president of the non-profit organization Haiti Marycare, which runs medical clinics in both Jacquesyl and Cite Soleil, one of the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince.
What’s been the most satisfying moment of your professional life?
ML: I’ll never forget the day I saw our first clinic building. I never in my wildest dreams thought it would happen.
TL: Working with clients to provide effective solutions to the variety of challenges they have presented. The more complex the challenges, the greater the sense of accomplishment.
And in your personal life?
ML: Seeing that it’s possible to have a professional career here, do ministry in Haiti, raise your children, and have it all work out.
TL: Finding purpose in how you live and what you do with your energy is where fulfillment lies. Jesus said, “Where your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” My wife and I attended a Marriage Encounter weekend back in 1986. This one event, and the subsequent focus that resulted from this experience is the most remarkable moment of my life because it taught me—really, us—to find our true happiness in each other, and through that exchange to experience God in our lives. God gave us each other to fill in where each other was lacking, to help direct our lives in ways that would be fulfilling.
Life is a journey. Staying close to God, by staying close to the gift we’ve been given through marriage is an ongoing effort. It is not a single moment, but the effort has led us to many moments of fulfillment.
What is your next goal?
ML: Retire someday to work full time in Haiti in the winter, spend summers on the Cape, and travel.
TL: My next goal is to initiate a community development program that improves lives in Haiti beyond our lifetime.
What is the secret to success?
ML: 1) Following your passion. 2) Perseverance at what you want to achieve. 3) Faith.
TL: I am still working on that, but someone said success comes when you show up—show up for class, for work, for exercise, for church, etc. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings, and unless we apply effort to each of these areas our lives, we will not have the balance that is required to find happiness.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
ML: It had an excellent nursing program, and I loved the campus. Also, my father and many uncles and great-uncles attended BC.
TL: They accepted me!
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
ML: Explore Boston, and take a class that is not in your major, just because it interests you.
TL: Learn to listen to their heart.
What is your fondest BC memory?
ML: Talking with friends on the Dust Bowl, living in the mods, and exploring Boston.
TL: Oh, a romantic escapade! We wandered down Beacon Street all the way into Boston in the pouring rain. We had a lot to talk about.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
ML: Walking in the main entrance in the fall. I loved all the Gothic buildings.
TL: The Dust Bowl.
How have you changed since graduation?
ML: I’ve learned a lot, but I’m still the same person.
TL: I’ve mellowed a little, become more tolerant and accepting. I lean on God more to show me what is important and what I need in my life.
Where did you live freshman year?
ML: Kirkwood on South Street.
TL: South Street. It rocked.
What was your favorite BC class?
ML: Russian literature.
TL: Geology, affectionately known as “rocks for jocks.” It was actually very interesting.
What was your favorite BC activity?
ML: Meeting friends on Friday nights after a long day at the hospital, hanging out with friends on South Street, and Saturday morning barbecues before a football game.
TL: We would sit with friends and talk for hours, getting to know the other person, and also ourselves—we called it rapping. We lived through Vietnam, Kent State, Watergate, the peace movement, the civil rights struggle, Woodstock, the Beatles, and many other episodes of confusion and turmoil through which we attempted to figure out what in life could be genuine and result in happiness. Rapping was an opportunity to tune in and look for those answers.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Both: All of it!
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
ML: Oh, I always ate at South Street, but I couldn’t say which meal was best.
TL: Breakfast on South Street.
What was your first job?
ML: The Frontier Nursing Service in Hyden, Ky.
TL: Working in a Ford Motor Company factory during the summer of ’73, in order to be near my girlfriend who later became my wife.
How do you relax?
ML: Read, bike, yoga, and travel whenever I have the opportunity. I love to explore new places.
TL: Biking, reading, and vegging in front of the TV.
What do you look forward to each day?
ML: Coffee and sunshine. I like the change of seasons, but there has to be sun.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
ML: I work in the Bronx, and I love the Yankees.
TL: Most know I am a good cook. Maybe they don’t know how much I enjoy it.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
ML: I have no idea!
TL: James Stewart or Kevin Costner.