Rev. Michael Flynn of Nativity of Our Lord passes away at age 81
October 6, 2017

Those who knew him offer up a picture of the Rev. Michael Flynn, O.Carm., PhD, as a man for whom dedication underpinned every aspect of life, whether it was healthful living, intellectual development, or his chosen vocation as a Roman Catholic priest. 

As a walker and biker, Fr. Flynn frequently explored the streets of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Bridgeport, which he had served from 1971 to 2016. His personal library and range of intellectual interests overwhelmed his associates, and his almost life-long association with the South Side could be measured by the hundreds of baptisms and marriage ceremonies he performed.

Fr. Flynn, an ordained priest of the Carmelite order and a psychologist, passed away August 15. Based in Darien, IL, the Carmelite Center became Father Flynn’s home after he retired from Nativity of Our Lord last year, according to the Most Rev. Joseph Atcher, treasurer of the Carmelite Society of Illinois.

Nancy Dybas, a secretary at Nativity of Our Lord, said Fr. Flynn had faced some health issues while still assigned to the Chicago parish but exercised regularly to restore his strength and maintain good health. After retirement, he had a stroke and then faced the challenge of recovering from a fall. He moved to St. Patrick’s Residence in Naperville, a nursing home staffed by the Carmelite Sisters; he also was an Alzheimer’s patient, Atcher said. 

Born in 1935, Michael Flynn traced his lineage back to Canaryville. One of the ten children of Michael and Mary Ellen Flynn, the younger Michael Flynn attended St. Gabriel’s Parish School before beginning pre-seminary and seminary training at Carmelite centers out of state, Atcher said. He became a priest in 1958.

He earned bachelor degrees in mathematics and philosophy, and during much of the early 1960s he worked in parochial high schools in Kentucky and Illinois. From 1968 to 1970, he was a director at the Carmelite Institute of Renewal in Mundelein, IL, and worked as a psychiatric clerk at a veteran’s hospital.

Fr. Flynn moved to Nativity of Our Lord parish in 1971 and earned a PhD in clinical psychology three years later. He then joined the psychology department of the University of Illinois Medical School while continuing to work with veterans until 2000.

Fr. Flynn was a “serious minded” individual, Fr. Atcher said, noting that “he had many, many books” in his extensive and wide ranging library.

Dybas recalled that Fr. Flynn was a friendly man, a dedicated walker and biker, and a priest whose sermons were particularly meaningful to many of Nativity’s parishioners.

Her favorite recollection of Fr. Flynn was the informal feedback she received on his sermons. Working in the parish offices, she often fielded phone calls from people asking when Fr. Flynn would be serving Mass because they liked his sermons.

Services for Fr. Flynn have been held. He was interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Chicago.

—Sheila Elliott