Filipino-American missionary returned to his roots to aid those in need

Divine Word Father Dennis Flynn, 90, a missionary in the Philippines for four decades, died on Sunday, February 25, at Techny, Ill.
The oldest of four children, Dennis Flynn was born in Manila in 1933, the son of American soldier John Paul Flynn and Timotea (nee Buntilao) Flynn of Cebu, Philippines.
His father died during the 1942 Bataan Death March in which Japanese soldiers forced Filipino and American prisoners to walk 65 miles in torturous conditions. Before his death, his father wrote to his mother, telling her that if something happened to him that he wanted their four children to be raised in the United States.
A native of New Jersey, his father had been wounded in World War I and volunteered for the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia, a unit that fought the Bolsheviks before being assigned to the Philippines.
Father Flynn’s mother was determined to abide by her husband’s wish. In 1948, she moved the family to Portland, Ore. The following year, they migrated to New Jersey to be closer to their father’s family.
Father Flynn professed vows in 1954 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1961.
Tagalog was his first language, so his first assignment to the Philippines was a natural choice. For the first 20 years of his priesthood, Father Flynn provided pastoral care for the indigenous Mangyan people in Mindoro in the Central Philippines.
He founded the Calamintao Project to train the Mangyan people in modern agricultural techniques and best practices and built a chapel and medical clinic in Calamintao on the northeastern side of Mindoro.
In the early 1980s, Father Flynn worked with the indigenous population of Australia before being transferred back to the United States to assist Father Ed Borkowski SVD at St. Philip Benizi in Oregon City, Ore.
In 1986, Father Flynn was assigned to the Southern Province, where he served as a parish priest in Lafayette, La.; a hospital chaplain in Galveston, Texas; and a Navy chaplain. Ten years later, he transferred to the Western Province and again served as a hospital chaplain.
For the last two decades of his missionary ministry, he returned to the Philippines to again provide pastoral care for the Mangyan people of Mindoro.
In 2020, Father Flynn moved to Techny in retirement.
A viewing will take place at the Divine Word Residence chapel at Techny on Friday, March 8 at 9 a.m. followed by a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. He will be buried in St Mary Cemetery at Techny.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Father Flynn’s name can be made for the retired missionaries and may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.
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