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Father Thomas Flanigan
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Chapter Seven of the History of St. Peter's Parish
Father Thomas K. Flanigan
Father Flanigan

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 of Columbus.

 

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