Biographies

Father John R. Flinn, MM

Born: June 19, 1909
Ordained: June 11, 1939
Died: August 6, 1996

Father John R. Flinn died at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York, at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 6, 1996. He was 87 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 57 years.

John was born on June 19, 1909, in Wilmington, Delaware, son of John and Anna McGonegal Flinn. He attended St. James Grammar School and graduated from Mt. St. Mary’s Preparatory School. He studied for the priesthood in the Diocese of Wilmington at Mt. St. Mary’s College and Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree. He joined Maryknoll at the Society’s Novitiate in Bedford, Massachusetts, on September 1, 1934 and was ordained a priest at Maryknoll, New York, on June 11, 1939,

After ordination, Father Flinn’s public relations talents were at the service of Maryknoll for the next 27 years in the Society’s Development Department. He made many friends for the Society in St. Louis, New York City, Akron, Cleveland and then at Maryknoll, New York on special Center Promotion work.

On May 17, 1966, Father Flinn was assigned to Maryknoll’s mission in Hawaii where he served in parochial ministry on the Islands of Oahu and Hawaii for four years. He was reassigned to the United States Region in January, 1970.

At this time he requested temporary release from a Maryknoll Society assignment. His zeal found a new outlet in his home diocese of Wilmington where he became very active in mission education. At the request of his Bishop, he accepted the position of Diocesan Director of the Propagation of the Faith. He held this position until he reached the age of 75 when he resigned and requested assignment to the Society’s Special Society Unit. When his request was granted, he moved to Maryknoll Residence at Los Altos, California, in August 1984. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, Father Flinn was transferred to St. Teresa’s Residence at Maryknoll, New York, along with fourteen other Los Altos residents.

At the time of his retirement as Director of the Propagation of the Faith in the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, Bishop Thomas Mardaga wrote him: “Let me thank you for your years of service in the Diocese of Wilmington, initially as an associate in parish work and more recently in the field of Mission and Marian Devotions. Your record with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith has resulted in great financial help to the missions both here and abroad. I am very conscious of the extraordinary zeal with which you pursued the parish membership program through weekly visits and preaching. I am very grateful also for your work as Director of the Holy Childhood Association. Through this you have effected an ongoing and impressive educational program for our young people, both in Catholic Schools and religious education programs.”

During his time at Maryknoll Residence, he worked on an Apostolate in California of bringing the Message of Fatima of Our Blessed Mother to as many Dioceses as he could reach. He spoke in over one hundred churches at all the Masses on weekends and the number of people reached was well over 100,000. In this Apostolate, he distributed over 200,000 rosaries and scapulars in the parishes he visited. When he transferred to St. Teresa’s Residence in New York, he initiated a similar work in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Tri-State area until he became too ill to continue it.

In his latter years, Father Flinn became interested in the needs of the elderly Maryknoll Society Members and succeeded in gathering significant funds for that purpose.

Although Father Flinn’s own overseas mission experience was limited to the time of his four year assignment to Maryknoll’s Hawaii Mission Region, he did have the opportunity to visit the Maryknoll missions in Kenya and Tanzania while he was Director of the Propagation of the Faith in Wilmington, Delaware, thus expanding his overseas mission awareness.

Wake services were held at the St. Teresa’s Residence Chapel at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 8, 1996 and at 7:30 p.m. in the Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center, New York, where Fr. Jose A. Aramburu presided. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated on Friday, August 9th at 11:30 a.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel. The Principal Celebrant was Father Leo B. Shea, and the homily was given by Father Charles T. Huegelmeyer. Interment followed at Maryknoll Cemetery with Father James H. Kroeger, presiding.