Sunday, April 15, 2012

Father Flannigan’s Flock

The pastor during Agnes Tully Stevens’ childhood, Father Patrick Michael Flannigan, was a beloved figure not only in the spiritual life of this one family, but for multiplied families throughout the south side community in Chicago known as Englewood. St. Anne’s Catholic Church, itself, was physically close at hand to the everyday life of the Tully family, located on the corner of 55th Street and Wentworth Avenue, not far from the Tully residence on Garfield Boulevard.

Started as a mission church, St. Anne’s grew to become the mother church of many other fledgling parishes as the Southtown Catholic population exploded in the late 1800s. 

By the time Father Flannigan’s successor took the pastorate, the church was well on its way to becoming a vibrant community. In 1907, following Father Flannigan’s passing, the Right Reverend Edward A. Kelly—a name we’ve already seen in the 1910 census as we puzzled over Assistant Pastor Dan E. Reilly—began his tenure which spanned Agnes’ childhood into adulthood, marriage and the birth of her own children. During that time, St. Anne’s Church congregation grew to serve three thousand families, with an expanded parochial school that served one thousand students.

Father Flannigan’s leadership bridged that stage from fledgling mission outpost to vibrant community center. A sense of the centrality of his role in the church and community can be gleaned from the 1955 report published in The Southtown Economist on the occasion of St. Anne’s ninetieth anniversary. Complete with pictures of the entire complex, the article is worth reading, and for subscribers to, can be found here.

Though it was, by 1955, nearly fifty years since Father Flannigan died, he was still being honored for his role as pastor at St. Anne’s Church by such comments in The Southtown Economist as:
            When Father Flannigan died, the Catholic paper of Chicago wrote, “No priest in the middle west is more generally known, or more highly esteemed…. St. Anne is one of the oldest and best organized parishes in Illinois.”
Father Flannigan was, himself, not from Chicago. Though the newspaper report of the reading of his will indicated his family was in Michigan, his death certificate showed that he was actually born in Ireland. The death certificate fixed his date of birth as sometime in the year of 1840, and also declared that he had been in the state of Illinois since 1861.

Unfortunately, Father Flannigan died during those times when the city didn’t see fit to record such helpful research hints as name of parents. But the certificate did state that he was to be buried in Marquette, Michigan, and gave a date of September 3, 1907—five days after he succumbed to pneumonia at the parish rectory.

As it turns out, Marquette, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is not very far from the Michigan town of Norway in which Father Flannigan's supposed siblings resided. Though I have not yet been able to find any record of Father Flannigan’s actual burial location, I have been able—along with the research help of regular reader "Iggy"—to locate several records of those Michigan residents of his family who were mentioned in the newspaper clipping passed down to me from Agnes Tully Stevens.


  1. Greetings from the great great great neice of Patrick Michael Flannigan. I didnt even know this wonderful man existed! Wow! What exciting information you have shared. I added Patrick to the siblings list on Ancestry so you will find him now. I will continue to work on discovering more about Patrick Flannigan and share with you!
    I sent you more info through your Facebook account!

    1. So glad to hear from you! It is always gratifying to connect with a reader who is part of the family of the one I'm writing about!

      I'm not surprised that you didn't know about your relationship to Father P. M. Flannigan. When I looked at the family material I've found, I started realizing that Father Flannigan is indeed a missing piece of the family puzzle. Glad he is reconnected to the family story!

  2. :)

    ...The power of the Internet.... :)

    1. Yes, Iggy, I'm loving how this thing is unfolding...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...