Fr. John Flynn, O.S.A.: Hello.
Anne Russell: Hi, Father Flynn?
Russell: This is Russell from the Province Office in Chicago calling you. How are you today?
Flynn: I’m just fine, you’re right on time!
Russell: You know I’d be on time, Father. How you doing today?
Flynn: I’m pretty good.
Russell: Okay, are you ready to answer some of my questions?
Russell: What was it that called you to be an Augustinian?
Flynn: It was many years ago. I was invited. I was invited at a retreat in my first year at St. Rita’s. I hadn’t thought about the priesthood or certainly not religious life. In those days every class I had a priest and I was impressed by the community. That’s what made me think about it but I had a friend in my class--St. Rita’s--his name was Flynn too. I had listened to this priest at the retreat and I had thought about it but I got kicked off the altar boys when I was in the fifth grade so I figured there’s no room there for me. This fellow was in my class and we became good friends. He was from another part of the city and he was going and he encouraged me to go, taught me to serve Mass and that’s what… It was the community, too.
It was the old monastery. We didn’t have the new one. My first class of the day, sometimes the door in the monastery which was in the back was open and you saw a lot of camaraderie. It impressed me.
Russell: Father, how long have you been a priest? How many years?
Flynn: As of the 19th of September, 61.
Russell: Congratulations. Wonderful! Okay, I have another question for you now, what would you say the role is of the Augustinians today?
Flynn: Community and service.
Russell: Very good, that’s just about right, too.
Flynn: Be a witness to community. Community is not just our community but families. A place where one is received love and can give it, learns to give it. The pope is… Francis is good on that.
Russell: Father, how are the Augustinians still relevant in today’s society?
Flynn: I think that’s one thing, they’re a witness to the civil community, their community life and their… We give service to people in the fields of education and parochial work and counseling and friendship.
Russell: As you know Father, we have that Continuing Our Journey of Faith capital campaign we’ve started and also hope to build the Father Ray Ryan Trust. That’s for the men in formation and vocations and also for the Journey of a Lifetime Trust for the retired and the infirm Augustinians. Why do you think these two projects are so important today?
Flynn: Of course, we’re getting older that’s why. We started here [at St. Anthony Home in Crown Point, Indiana] with three people who were independent now we have five brothers and four priests in this community. It’s a good community, too. We get a lot of support for it. Also we need new members and I've been impressed by the number that are starting to respond to us in the community. We had the young people from St. Augustine Friary; they have come out here a few times to visit with the old people.
I think that’s encouraging because they see the community here and also how we care for one another. I think that’s important to them, too. It’s interesting that many of them, and we need priests but many of them want to be brothers. We have some good examples of brothers and good examples of priests, too.
Russell: Yes, you do. Father, do you have any advice for those currently in formation or who are discerning the religious vocation?
Flynn: Gradually, gradually grow in their prayer life and they themselves to give themselves to community. As time goes on and they’re in the community to look for a good spiritual director and if they can’t find a good spiritual director--sometimes they’re just not available--then to do some very good reading. There are plenty of spiritual books and spiritual masters. I also would say that to come not only to personal prayer but to liturgical prayer, too. The prayers of the Church that we… the Office that we say every day and Mass we go to, they’re not only aimed at us to deepen the life of Grace within us but also they’re meant to be prayer of the community of the Church.
They are for the world and all the people in the world. To get an understanding of the Psalms as beautiful prayers even though there’s some cultural differences and so forth in them but to learn their meaning and why the Church uses them for the prayer of the Church. I think the prayer and being good members of the community is a good thing. Also if they’re discerning religious life to cultivate their sense of humor.
Russell: My last question to you is you know this capital campaign, why do you think others should go that little extra mile to give us a special gift for this campaign?
Flynn: Some people is because they love us. Because of our service in the past or in the present--that a spirit of gratitude for that. We should return also the spirit of gratitude. We have a lot of people who have… We've touched their life in some way and it’s hard to say, they don’t have an obligation of course to do it but I think that people will because we show community. They learn from our community. We’re not just lay people off at the end, we take care as they should… They have to of their elderly. They also have to raise their children in a similar in community life. I think in a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of… It’s up to us to have hospitality. It’s part of community to give hospitality to people. They come to our affairs and they get to know even after we've touched their lives with service, a lot of our men are willing to give advice and example and help. Go the extra mile.
Russell: Father John, thank you for your time. Hope you have a good rest of the day.
Flynn: Oh thank you.
Russell: Hope to see you soon!