Published July 24, 2014
ATLANTA—Father Michael J. Flanagan, 82, a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette, and first pastor of St. Clement Church, in Calhoun, died June 22, the feast of Corpus Christi, at St. Mary Home in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Father Flanagan was the administrator of St. Clement beginning in 1981 and became the first pastor when it was elevated to a parish on Sept. 14, 1984. The parish covered all of Gordon County.
He was pastor there until 1991, as the parish grew from 72 families to 150 families during those years.
He also began the capital campaign and building process that led to the construction of the current church, which was dedicated in 1991.
He went on from St. Clement to become a parochial vicar at St. Oliver Plunkett Church in Snellville for a number of years in the 1990s while Father Tom Carroll, also a La Salette missionary, was pastor.
In an interview with The Georgia Bulletin for his silver jubilee in 1985, he said, “I’m just overjoyed with being able to be a priest and bring a sense of the Church, the Church of today, to the people of Calhoun and Gordon County.”
An outgoing and gregarious person, he was born in Medford, Massachusetts, the son of the late Michael and Annie O’Brien Flanagan. After visiting the La Salette Seminary in nearby Ipswich, he said he was very impressed by their priests’ and brothers’ friendliness and openness. Beginning at the age of 16, he went to high school and junior college at La Salette facilities in Connecticut. He entered the novitiate on July 1, 1952 and made his first profession of vows a year later on July 2, 1953. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 1960.
In addition to parish assignments in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Georgia, he served at La Salette parishes in Dagenham and Rainham, England. His last assignment was in Orlando, Florida, where he served from 2001 until 2009, before moving to a La Salette residence in Hartford.
In an obituary, the family said that Father Flanagan “was a very gracious person who … spoke easily and comfortably with people and was particularly concerned about helping them in their difficulties. He thought that’s what a priest should do.” He was especially interested in Irish history and poetry and the problems and challenges of today’s Church.
In addition to his La Salette community, Father Flanagan is survived by a brother-in-law, Emerson Dickie, of Watertown, Massachusetts; a nephew, Kevin Dickie, of Medway, Massachusetts; and many other relatives and friends. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated June 25 at the La Salette Chapel, Hartford, followed by burial at Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Missionaries of La Salette Retirement Fund, 915 Maple Ave., Hartford, CT 06114-2330. Condolences can be sent to Mr. Kevin Dickie, 6 Olde Surry Lane, Medway, MA 02053.