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Rev Thomas Edward Flynn

Rev Thomas Edward Flynn

Death 3 Nov 1961 (aged 81)
Burial Lancaster, City of Lancaster, Lancashire, England
Plot Bishops' Vault.
Memorial ID 27763940 · View Source
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Bishop Thomas Flynn was the eldest of six children and his father was a regular soldier. He was born in Portsmouth and three weeks after his birth the family moved to Warrington, where he attended St. Francis Xavier's College, serving in the meantime as an altar boy before school at the Notre Dame's Convent, where he served Mass for Bishop O'Reilly's secretary. When asked whether he wanted to be a priest, he is reputed to have said: "No, I want to be a bishop." A family friend had suggested to his parents that he became a Jesuit, but the bishop's secretary had made a direct approach. He was eventually ordained as a diocesan priest at the age of 28, on June 13, 1908.

He was a minor professor at St. Edward's where he taught Mathematics and served at Pemberton for a short while before being sent to St Edmund's House, Cambridge, where he took his Natural Science Tripos, and then to Friburg University in Switzerland. In 1912, he returned to the teaching staff at St. Edward's college where he stayed for four years before a Curacy at St Thomas's, Waterloo.

Flynn volunteered to be a chaplain during the First World War, but was sent to teach at St Edmund's, Ware instead, where his primary task was to set up a science department. It was during this period that he became an authority on medico-moral problems and made contact with leading doctors, surgeons and psychologists. He was also voted an associate member of St. Luke's Catholic Medical Guild. He also became a noted preacher within the Westminster Archdiocese.

Reverend Flynn and Msgr. Myers, later Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster were joint editors of the Clergy Review founded in 1931. By this time Dr Flynn had succeeded Dr. Downey as vice-president of Upholland, having been Headmaster since 1924. The joint editors are reputed to have travelled to Crewe station to discuss editorial problems. In 1935 Dr. Flynn became sole editor and continued until June 1939, when following his appointment as Bishop of Lancaster.

In 1938, the future Bishop visited the United States and is recorded in the Congressional Records for the House of Representatives when he offered the opening prayer on April 19, 1938.

When the Diocese of Lancaster was formed, Cardinal Bourne remarked that "It is the best title in England after Westminster". Bishop Flynn soon developed a great pride in his Diocese and years later in his Jubilee speech he was to quote St. John Fisher "I am not going to swop my old woman for the richest widow in England." His sense of obedience was such that he would have gone wherever the Pope sent him.

Like his predecessor he was keen to increase the number of Churches in his Diocese, but wartime restrictions were to cause him problems. At last he was able to lay the foundation stone for Our Lady and St. Edward's, Preston. He carefully checked new housing developments to ensure there was adequate provision. His last instruction was to confirm the establishment of St. Benedict's at Whitehaven. Before he died, he was also able to be present at the opening of Our Lady of the Assumption, Blackpool. The Bishop had promised to build a church in honour of Our Lady if his diocese was spared destruction in the war and was able to consecrate the church at Layton, Blakpool, in May 1957.

The Bishop made a point of seeing all his students annually, although in later years he found it difficult to remember the names of the younger priests. By the time of his death there were 194 secular priests in the diocese. During the war he released twenty three priests for war duties. Four of them died on active service.

On his way to Rome in 1952, the Bishop suffered a stroke and had to return in an ambulance coach attached to the normal train. Two stages in his recovery occurred about the time of Solemn Exposition and a blessing by the relics of St. Maria Goretti. The Bishop never claimed they were more than coincidences, but was impressed and the next church he opened was dedicated to St. Maria Goretti. Although he made a good recovery, he was no longer as active as he used to be. Always sympathetic to the sick, he was now able to address in a more personal way.

From the summer of 1961, his health deteriorated and eventually at the end of October he was admitted to hospital for the last time.




  • Created by: Eman Bonnici
  • Added: 23 Jun 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27763940
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Thomas Edward Flynn (6 Jan 1880–3 Nov 1961), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27763940, citing Cathedral Cemetery of Lancaster, Lancaster, City of Lancaster, Lancashire, England ; Maintained by Eman Bonnici (contributor 46572312) .