Catholic Courier

Posted: June 21, 2011

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

Father John Lynch; priest for 51 years

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

Father John Lynch, a diocesan priest who logged pastorates in the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes and Monroe County, died June 4, 2011 -- the 51st anniversary of his ordination -- at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Rochester after a long illness. He was 77 years old.

Father Lynch was born in Seneca Falls and grew up in Rochester, where he was a communicant at St. Monica and St. Augustine parishes. He attended St. Monica School and Aquinas Institute, then went on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

He was ordained June 4, 1960, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He subsequently served as assistant pastor at St. Mary Parish, Corning (1960-62); Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rochester (1962-66); and St. James, Irondequoit (1966-67). He was then secretary in the diocesan Tribunal (1967-73); part-time assistant pastor at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Brockport, (1973-74); assistant pastor of St. Jerome, East Rochester (1974-77), and assistant pastor of St. Charles Borromeo, Elmira Heights (1977-79).

Father Lynch's first pastorate was at St. Stanislaus, Bradford, and St. Joseph, Campbell, from 1979-82. He then served for 13 years as pastor of St. Theresa, Stanley, and St. Mary, Rushville. In 1995 Father Lynch became pastor of St. James in Irondequoit, where he remained until retiring in 2004.

In retirement he resided at St. Anne Church in Rochester and continued his long-standing part-time duty at the tribunal. He moved to the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse for the last few months of his life.

In a 2004 Catholic Courier article honoring his retirement, Father Lynch said he "felt fortunate to have a wide variety of pastoral experiences." He noted in particular being able to offer pastoral counseling and to hear confession: "I have seen people ... that were mired in sin for many years experience the forgiveness of the Lord and a peaceful conscience," he said.

Rita Lee, who was Father Lynch's secretary throughout his time at St. James, observed that the priest tended to be low-key in crowds but was very personable one on one.

"We did become close friends. He was very good to me. When I would come in every morning, he would pull up a chair and sit down just to chat for a few minutes. He was a very caring person to those around him," she said, adding that "he was a very deeply religious person. He was very devout."

Father William Graf, a classmate, agreed that Father Lynch was generally introverted yet an outstanding priest who had "a great mind" as well as "a very loving, caring, gentle way" in his ministry.

"It's a great loss, in a lot of ways. He loved working on the Tribunal, he loved small crowds and he loved the Eucharist," said Father Graf, who is scheduled to give the homily at Father Lynch's funeral Mass. "He didn't talk about himself publicly but he was just a delightfully wonderful, wonderful person. I'm just sorry more people didn't get to know him to the depth some of us did."

Father Lynch is survived by a cousin, Carol (Edward) Breault, of Latham, N.Y.

Bishop Matthew H. Clark celebrated Father Lynch's funeral liturgy June 9, 2011, at St. Anne Church. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Contributions in Father Lynch's memory may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph, 150 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618-3822.

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