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Monsignor John J. Flanagan 1940-2013
On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, our beloved son, brother, friend, and priest, Monsignor John J. Flanagan, was called home by God after a short illness with liver cancer. He died peacefully at the home of dear parishioners of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Martinez, Texas. He was born on May 16, 1940, in County Leitrim, Ireland, the eldest of eight children born to Michael and Annie Mary Flanagan.
In 1961, John immigrated to the United States and became a citizen. He lived in the Chicago area. After working in various jobs, his strong Catholic faith led him to enter the seminary. He received a BA in theology, humanities, and English from Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corner, Wis. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest with the Missionaries of the Holy Family on May 25, 1974, at All Souls Catholic Church in Overland, Mo. His priestly career spanned 39 years.
Monsignor John began at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Donna, Texas. He then went to Los Angeles where he was Chaplain Vicar at Los Angeles County General Hospital from 1975-77. His order then sent him to perform missionary work in Cuatro Cienegas, Mexico, for more than 10 years. Arriving there knowing no Spanish, he quickly learned the language. He loved the culture and the people.
In 1987, he was sent to New Braunfels to be Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, where he oversaw the construction of a rectory. In 1990, he was sent to Our Lady of Victory in Beeville as pastor. There he was responsible for oversight of a parochial school. In 1994, Monsignor John was a chaplain at Alexian Brothers Hospital in the St. Louis, Mo., area. He then was sent to Costa Rica where he was a professor of English at a professional business school.
In 1997, he returned to Texas and was accepted as a diocesan priest under the leadership of Archbishop Patrick Flores. Monsignor John then became pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Runge. In 1999, while in Runge, his parishioners celebrated his 25th Silver Jubilee as a priest. His brother, Patrick, and wife Anne secretly flew to the United States to surprise him and celebrate that great occasion. In the fall of that year, Monsignor John returned to Ireland to be with his immediate family and to further commemorate that great accomplishment. In 2001, he began his final assignment as pastor of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Martinez. During his time there, he directed the construction of a new church for his parishioners.
He was preceded in death by his father.
Monsignor John is survived by his 101-year-old mother in Ireland; and all of his siblings, Joseph Flanagan of Wheeling, Ill.; Michael Flanagan and wife Pauline of London, England; and May Feehily and husband Hughie, Thomas Flanagan, Anthony Flanagan, Patrick Flanagan and wife Anne, and Helen Manly and husband David, all of Ireland. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews residing in Ireland, England, France, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The family of Monsignor John wishes to thank Terry and Jerry Lichtenberger for their commitment to making Monsignor John’s final days peaceful, comfortable, and filled with love; all of the parishioners who have loved and supported him; and the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Many people sought Monsignor John’s counsel. He was intelligent, honest, warm, fun, and caring. He valued everyone and happily brought varied groups together. He was so devout and spiritual. He genuinely enjoyed being a priest and helping others. All of us who were blessed to know and love him will sorely miss his dedication, big heart, great sense of humor, and his unforgettable laugh.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Finch Funeral Chapel in La Vernia, Texas.
Visitation was held Friday, July 12, at 3 p.m. in St Jerome’s Catholic Church in Martinez, with a rosary recited at 7 p.m.
A second visitation was held Saturday at 8 a.m., with a Mass of the Resurrection celebrated at 11 a.m. in the church by the Most Rev. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.
Monsignor John’s body was returned to Ireland. A Mass was celebrated in St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Killargue, Dromahair, County Leitrim, Ireland. This is the same church where he celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1999 with family and friends. His body will be buried in the family plot in Killargue New Cemetery, which is close to his childhood home.
Memorial donations may be made to the St. Jerome Catholic Church Building Fund, 7955 Real Road, San Antonio, TX 78263.
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