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Tribute to Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Flanagan, DD

By George R. Terrell

Vol. 4, 2023 - 2024

Retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Flanagan, 89, remembered for a life of faithful priestly service in many ways to the people of the archdiocese, died October 9 in San Antonio following a long illness. In recent years the bishop lived at the Padua Place residence for retired clergy.

Bishop Flanagan was preceded in death by his parents, Patrick and Mary Flanagan, brothers Oliver and John, and sisters Maureen and Susan. He is survived by brothers Pat and Jerome and sister Martha, brothers in law, sister in law, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, great grand nieces, great grand nephews, and cousins.
A vigil service was held on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., at St. Brigid Church at 6907 Kitchener Road in San Antonio. A liturgy was celebrated at St. Brigid's on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m., with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, as presider.
Funeral Mass will be held in Holy Trinity Church, Derrinturn, Carbury, County Kildare, where Bishop Flanagan was baptized, received First Communion, was confirmed, and celebrated his first Mass on June 11, 1956, following ordination to the priesthood.

On May 16-19, 2002, in a portion of a congratulation letter to the 98th Annual State Convention of the Knights of Columbus in El Paso Texas and the 100th year anniversary of Council 638, State Chaplain Bishop Tom wrote in words that still hold true today…

“I pray that Christ the Good Shephard will bless our State convention with a renewal of our love and devotion to the spirit of Columbianism in every Knight of Columbus Council.I want to thank my brother Knights and your families for your constant prayerful support of the Bishops, Priests, Religious women and men, Deacons and their families.I thank you for your great commitment to all our seminarians and your prayers for Vocations to the Priesthood consecrated life and the Diaconate.

May Christ in his tender mercy and his extravagant love for all of us be our source of strength and courage as we move into the future.May Our Lady of Guadalupe protect us always, as we, the Knights of Columbus of Texas, continue to build a better and brighter world.Let us continue to pray for peace and justice, forgiveness and reconciliation, healing and hope for the people of God.”

Thank you Bishop Tom for inspiring the Knights of Columbus to do God’s will. When it came to the Archdiocese of San Antonio Knights of Columbus and The Texas State Council events, Jim Wade stated: “Bishop Tom was a truly dedicated Knight of Columbus and an incredible caring person.Just one small example of his dedication was when I was privileged to serve as the Diocesan Deputy for 4 years, Bishop Tom would always call me in July to find out the date of the Diocesan Conference, then he would book his annual trip to Ireland. He attended every conference and stayed the whole time.Amazing was his concern and commitment. He was truly committed to the Knights.”

Past State Deputy Raymond Neumann writes “As he was a great mentor, leader, and personal friend to us all, it would be appropriate if we, as Knights, unify to honor him and keep his memory alive.” Bishop Tom often stated, “A Blessing is not a Blessing unless it is shared.” We can share with him at this time.

Brother Urrutia noted, our Knights of Columbus activities with Bishop Tom were many, because he was always there with us. He lead us with his humility and self-prayer disciple was ever present.I had the pleasure to serve with the building Knights of Columbus Habitat Homes for families.Once I volunteered to transport Bishop Flanagan from his living quarters at the Oblate seminary.Purpose to conduct the blessings of a completed new home. As the ceremony completed. Bishop Flanagan asked, “will you follow up with these children, to insure these children receive the Sacrament of Baptism.”This was Bishop Flanagan in action.His Catholic faith was practiced every day of his life. I will remember Bishop Flanagan for his spiritual leadership as an Auxiliary Bishop for the San Antonio Archdiocese. A true Brother Knight who lead us his Christian way of life as State Chaplain and Chapter Chaplain for many years. In your prayers remember the soul of Bishop Tom Flanagan and the souls of all the faithful departed through the Mercy of God.Rest in peace… Mike Urrutia, Council 9902

Bishop Tom motivated Knights to give of their time to contribute to church community. He championed Knights programs to promote a stronger relationship between Church, Brother Knights and families. Knights of Columbus programs and devotionals, have made better husbands, fathers and sons. Bishop Tom encouraged renewing and maintaining a relationship with God through prayer and meditation. Bishop Tom’s strength was his devotion to God.His strength to devote his life to his priestly duties and kinship to the Knights of Columbus was unfaltering. We pray his joy was complete knowing his Knights were imploring God’s favor. Bishop Tom accomplished so much through his stewardship. With the mere presence of being God’s messenger, Bishop Tom was known to give comfort and confidence to a first year Grand Knight by introducing them to the present guard. His blessing to succeed would give a new member of our order confidence and ability to lead his council, his diocese and possible his state was truly miraculous. Bishop Tom’s motivation to serve his church community is well documented. His thoughts were to promote Columbiaism, self-responsibility and above all, to be faithful to God.

Bishop Tom inspired Habitat for Humanity home building and Bishop Thomas Flanagan’s Golf Classic which provided 14 newly constructed homes for families of first time home buyers. He provided unity to create the 33rd Annual Thomas J. Flanagan’s Tecaboca Men’s Retreat for Catholic men. The retreat was an opportunity to become closer to God and the time to meditate on that relationship. His call to fraternalism enabled the Clergy Religious Appreciation Dinner, bringing together Knights, Clergy and Religious Women to enjoy an evening of dinner and conversation. Bishop Tom’s passion to promote and support seminarians was always at his forefront.Bishop Tom’s memory will always be a catalyst for Knights of Columbus to volunteer hundreds of man hours and support numerous charities. Bishop Tom’s spirit will live on in the hearts of every Knight of Columbus he touched. We are truly blessed to have known such a giving and humble individual as Bishop Tom.

To commemorate Bishop Tom’s faithful service to the Knights of Columbus. In 2016 the Chapter Bi-Laws proclaim: “The name of this Chapter shall be known as the Bishop Thomas J. Flanagan Knights of Columbus Chapter of San Antonio,” in his honor.

God’s Chosen Servant By: George R. TerrellWho comes there? A man from the isle of Ireland and a place called Texas. Who lines his pathway and beyond? They are these men they call the Knights of Columbus. By what deeds does this man abide? By the Master’s will, he comes not to be served but to serve. Alas, this man is no stranger and need not introduction, for he is Bishop Tom, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Flanagan.Make way. Godspeed Bishop Tom…

Acknowledgements:Joe Torres, ASA Assistant Diocesan Deputy provided the following information from the state executive office.1981-1983 Rev. Thomas J. Flanagan was Associate State Chaplain under State Deputy Tim Von Dohlen1983-1985 Rev. Thomas J. Flanagan was Associate State Chaplain under State Deputy Floyd Tafelsi1993-1995 Msgr. Thomas J. Flanagan was Associate State Chaplain under State Deputy Lou Barbour2000-2002 Bishop Thomas J. Flanagan was State Chaplain under State Deputy Billy Quintanilla

Photos provided by:Tom Kruerger, Chapter President, Christobal Rodriguez, Past Chapter President,Robert Von Lehmden, Past Chapter Trustee Archdiocese of San Antonio web-site, Today’s CatholicBishop Thomas J. Flanagan Habitat for Humanity Home Building and Golf Classic Bishop Tom’s letter to State Convention, Texas State Council state office May 16-19 2002The following is a link to Archdiocese of San Antonio remembrance to Bishop Tom memorial services, life path and references.https://www.facebook.com/media/set?set=a.1589527537867610&type=3&sfns=mo

Any references, wordings, photos in this article not acknowledged are purely coincidental.

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