On of the joys of coming to retire at Nazareth House (nearly four years ago now) was to share the company of many of the then-young priests whom I admired when I was an even younger, newly-ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. One of the difficulties of life here is that it must be expected that they will enter eternal life sooner than those who know and love them would like.
I had always admired Sean Flanagan somewhat at a distance. We knew and respected and liked each other but were never close friends. During the past four years, however, we got to know each other fairly well. I was able to provide him with some resources on topics of mutual interest, and he shared the draft of his “Memoir” with me, asking me to proofread it.
I do not know whether anything further will be written about his life and works. In many ways, he was simply an ordinary Irish priestly transplant here in Southern California – one among many. But he maintained a great diversity of interests – including a love for and almost encyclopedic knowledge of movies – and his life took some interesting and unexpected turns, including an almost accidental developing a passion for social justice, especially support for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
As a memorial to my friend and colleague in ministry, I’m making available some materials that may be of interest to anyone wanting to get to know this fascinating man better.
I’m sad that I will not be able to attend his funeral at St. Bartholomew’s next Monday, because I will be in San Diego leading a retreat for the retired Sisters of Nazareth. I’ll be there in spirit, but will not be contributing to the overcrowding of that tiny church. I’m sure many people whose lives he touched deeply will be there.