St. Peter's fifteenth
pastor was Father Thomas Keenan Flanigan, known affectionately, and with great respect, as T.K. to hundreds of graduates
from Keveny Academy in Cohoes. Father went to St. Bernard's parish as assistant principal at Keveny from St. Patrick's
Church, Watervliet, his first assignment. A native Trojan, he was a graduate of Catholic Central High School. He went to Niagara
University and Our Lady of Angels Seminary. He was ordained in 1950 by the late Bishop Edmund F. Gibbons.
His first pastorate
was served at St. Ann's in Fort Ann, N.Y., where he also had the responsibility of the chaplaincy at Great Meadows prison,
Comstock. Father's work among the prisoners won him the Dismas award. He started an Art program for the inmates. He was
in close touch with many men, on an individual basis, as a trusted confidant and counselor.
When at Keveny,
Father Flanigan formed Keveny's famous marching band which strode yearly to triumphs at the St. Patrick's Day parade up Fifth
Avenue in New York, and at State-wide competition at the State Fair in Syracuse.
When he came to
St. Peter's, it was to undertake the task of sustaining the life of an old parish with a distinguished tradition, which
was suffering the grave social and economic changes found in the inner city. Difficulties whet his appetite for action. His
example of self-sacrifice for the good of others drew helpers to his side. The quality of his priestly life was the essence
of strong spiritual leadership, the kind which generations of St. Peter's boys have responded to by giving their own lives
to God as priests.
He formed a parish
council which developed new activities. Many of these were aimed at fund raising, such as the weekly Bingo games.
Funds were needed for St. Peter's new mission: to serve not only families whose roots are deep in St. Peter's past, but also
new people, some of whom are not yet even members of the parish. And also, to retain in the midst of social upheaval,
a stabilizing center of disciplined, Catholic education. Father's interest in the community kept him involved in civic
affairs. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Opportunity (CEO) Board of Rensselaer County, and holds a national
award for his work in rural CEO. He was on the Troy Narcotics Guidance Council and chaplain of the Troy Council of Knights
In the Vatican
Council's Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, there is a passage which describes the priests around whom the story
of St. Peter's revolves. Priests are taken from among men and appointed for men in the things that pertain to God, in order
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hence, they deal with other men as with brothers. This was the way that the Lord Jesus,
the Son of God, a man sent by the Father to men, dwelt among us and willed to become like His brothers in all things except
sin. The Holy Apostles imitated Him; and blessed Paul, who was set apart for the Gospel of God, declares that he became all
things to all men that he might save us all.
Father Flanigan Humanitarian Award