There was no social justice or community service organization in her North Shore community, Marion Flynn would not volunteer for, defend, or throw support behind her.
It was the character of a woman who felt called to the priesthood and spent many years advocating for women to be ordained in the Catholic Church – an issue that continues to affect the church.
After 33 years as a banker, Flynn resigned in 2007 as senior vice president of Bank of America, having served as vice president of Continental Bank. But retirement was just a word to Flynn, who immediately embarked on another career in community service.
Mrs. Flynn died on October 8 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 69.
“She would very much like to be remembered for her charitable work. It was important to her, ”said her only child, James Price, about his work with countless nonprofits.
Mrs. Flynn worked on Meals On Wheels Northeastern Illinois / Meals at Home; YWCA Evanston / North Shore; Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center; CROSO (Child Restoration Outreach Support Organization), which educates street children in Uganda; Open Communities fair housing agency; and the North Shore United Way and the United Way of Evanston.
“For me, I will always remember her for her patience,” her son said.
“She gave a mistake, kind and generous. She would literally pick up strangers next to the road because it was raining, even though I told her it was not safe. She just believed in giving back to other people and that what you got was meant to be shared. ”
Born January 22, 1952 in Holbrook, Massachusetts, Flynn attended Catholic schools – Archbishop Williams High School in her hometown, then Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton Center, Massachusetts, where she received her bachelor’s degree in theology and English in 1974.
She moved to Chicago to begin her career at Continental and enrolled at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where she earned an MBA in 1980.
She was a longtime resident of Evanston and was a member of St. Nicholas Church for more than 30 years. She served over the years as a church treasurer; member of the Parish Council, the Finance Council and the Holiday Festival Committee; door greeting, associate professor and lecturer in associate professors; and co-founder of the church’s LGBTQ ministry.
Like her hero, Dorothy Day – the founder of the Catholic labor movement – Mrs. Flynn believed in integrating social activism and Catholic religious traditions by helping the poor, fighting social injustice, and reforming social structures.
“Marion really felt called to the priesthood — probably all her life,” said Sister Christina Fuller, longtime director of religious education at St. Mary’s. Nicholas, who presided at Mrs. Flynn’s memorial service on Wednesday.
Marion actually met Dorothy Day at some point in her life, and Dorothy invited her to work with her. She said to her, ‘No, for I must be a priest,’ Fuller said.
“And Marion was always a priest to us at St. Nicholas in many, many ways. We are all called to be priests at our baptism, and she lived it all out in her life. She could not formally celebrate the Eucharist, but she made the Eucharist happen no matter where she was, among whom she was with. ”
Mrs. Flynn had been a board member and treasurer in Washington, DC-based, Women’s Ordination Conference since 2013. And she always sought to help her community and served as a member of Evanston’s Parks and Recreation Board from 1983-93 and as chair of the United Way of Evanston from 1999-2009.
In 2007, she went to work for Frances Xavier Warde School as a development assistant. From 2011-2013, she served as Development Manager for North Shore United Way.
Other work included serving as chairman of the board of the Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC) from 1980-1986. And she had been a board member of CROSO since 2009; and in YWCA, member of the steering group since 2014.
Mrs. Flynn was a strong supporter of the School District 65 PTA Equity Project. And for almost five years, from 2013-2017, she provided meals weekly for closing meals at home.
She also loved softball and was the manager of Evanston’s Girls Night Out softball team for more than 20 years.
“She lived a life of service. She knew from an early age that she was called to be a priest. Although the institutional church did not recognize her calling, we all saw her live that calling every day of her life, ”said her best friend, Eileen Heineman.
“She modeled inclusivity in each fiber and worked to transform the church,” Heineman said.
“She wants to be remembered as someone who loved to laugh, who would do anything for anyone and as someone who understood the responsibility of those who had the privilege of having their voices listened to, and raised voices and questions about them which was often not heard. ”
In addition to her son, the survivor includes a granddaughter, Lula; and two sisters, Kathleen Flynn and Evelyn Mavilia.
A memorial service was held Wednesday in St. Louis. Nicholas Church. A funeral mass and funeral are scheduled to be held in Holbrook.