|Birth: ||Jul. 28, 1929|
|Death: ||Sep. 23, 2012|
Only death - and a debilitating illness during his last year - could put Father Flynn and repose in the same sentence.
John C. Flynn could have been a Monsignor, but as he told the story in later years, he refused the elevation because he already held a title more to his liking: the people's priest.
The beloved "street priest" of the Bronx for more than 50 years died after a lengthy illness on Sunday, September 23, 2012, aged 83.
The second oldest of four children of a civil engineer and a homemaker, both Catholics, and he grew up in Crestwood, a middle-class enclave in Yonkers. Even as a youngster, he had the makings of a future priest.
He had severe asthma and spent some of his childhood living with family friends in Saranac Lake, New York, where the air was easier on his lungs. After returning home to Yonkers, he graduated from Roosevelt High School, and later attended Saint Joseph's Seminary.
Ordained to the Priesthood in 1955, Flynn served at St. Raymond's Church in the East Bronx. He carried his hope and dedication to St. Francis of Assisi Church in High Bridge in the 1970's, where he became an advocate for housing and other issues.
He realized the idyllic neighborhood had its share of kids on drugs, so he'd walk the streets at night to talk to them and urge them into rehab.
He walked to a home in the dead of night to be with a family that got the news their boy was killed in Vietnam.
He walked in Caracas, Venezuela, amid unspeakable poverty, but where, on a Christmas marked by a mudslide that left people homeless, he said Mass outdoors.
Teens who lived by the gun had only respect and deference for him when he approached on a dark streetcorner, because they knew he was sincere, while they believed the situation was hopeless and would never change.
But it slowly, eventually got better. Thirty-five kids went through his program. The neighborhood became safer, but that meant poor residents couldn't afford to live there anymore, which saddened him.
When the numbers filling the church dwindled, he walked to their homes, up tenement stairs, to hold prayer services. He walked to St. Barnabas Hospital countless times, when someone was shot, or was sick.
He served the poorest of the poor in slums in South America. In 1989, he went to St. Martin of Tours Church in Crotona, where he was Pastor.
While at St. Martin's, he started "Save a Generation," a program for young people who trained National Guard-style at an upstate boot camp and got their G.E.D.'s, and then worked for a year in Bronx parks and prepared for college.
Flynn found candidates for the program by walking the streets at night during a time of crack gangs and shootings, asking kids to trade their guns for a crucifix.
He retired from St. Martin's in July 2011, spending his last months at the Frances Schervier Home in Riverdale. There he gave his last "ministry," accepting his fate with the grace and dignity he always wore with his timeworn golf shirts and battered jackets. Then he could no longer walk, and was in a wheelchair, and could only squeeze a hand or nod, his blue eyes doing his moving and talking for him.
Wake was held at St. Martin's, 664 Grote St., on Thursday from 2 till 8 pm. Funeral Mass was on Friday at 10 am., at St. Martin's, followed by internment at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester County.
Gate of Heaven Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Section 45, Plot 493, Grave 6.
Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Oct 01, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 98047934
Rest In Peace, Beloved Father Flynn!|
Added: Oct. 1, 2012