Bishop Timothy Lyne, 94, longtime rector at Holy Name

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By Bob Uphues and Ken Trainor

Long before he was named a bishop by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1983, the Most Rev. Timothy Lyne had endeared himself to a generation of parishioners at St. Mary's in Riverside and St. Edmund in Oak Park.

Bishop Lyne, 94, died on Sept. 25, 2013 at the rectory named in his honor at Holy Name Cathedral.

He was a graduate of St. Mel School on the West Side and, as a seminarian, he caddied for Cardinal Mundelein. A priest for 70 years, he was ordained in 1943.

Those who knew Lyne said he had a deft personal touch — he had a remarkable ability to remember names, even if he hadn't seen someone in years — which inspired confidence, and he was a diligent administrator, who had the ability to oversee large construction projects.

While administrator at St. Mary's from 1943 to 1962, the parish underwent tremendous growth. He oversaw the construction of a new school building in 1952 and the construction of a new convent (since converted to a single-family home) in 1959 to house more than a dozen nuns who taught at the school.

Lyne officiated at the wedding of longtime parishioners Dr. Ron and Donna Lorenzini in 1958 and remained part of the family's life. He married all of their children and baptized 12 of their 13 grandchildren.

"He was always available," said Donna Lorenzini. "He had a profound influence on many people's lives. He loved seeing the families."

Lyne could also be inventive in solving problems. Tired of hearing school parents complain that they wanted a greater say in the instruction at the school since they were paying tuition, Lyne abolished tuition, according to Mary McMahon, a St. Mary parishioner.

Instead, from the pulpit he asked that every working Catholic donate a certain amount of money per month in place of charging tuition at the school. And he meant it. He told parishioners, "If you don't give it to me at the front door, I'll go to your back door," McMahon recalled.

The practice continued until Lyne left in 1962, according to McMahon.

Among those who were around in 1962, Lyne was never supposed to go. Cardinal Samuel Stritch reportedly promised Lyne the job of pastor of St. Mary's upon the death of Father William A. Murphy, for whom Lyne served as administrator. But Stritch died in 1958 and when Murphy died in 1962, Stritch's successor, Cardinal Albert Meyer, assigned Father John Brown as pastor.

That same year, Lyne was transferred to St. Edmund Parish in Oak Park, where he remained until 1966.

"He was very upset," said McMahon. "He hoped [St. Mary's] would be his home."

St. Edmund Parish assistant, Don Giannetti remembers that same way with people.

"He was, in the best sense of that term, an Irish politician," Giannetti recalled. "He was a real people person."

He also had family in Oak Park, having grown up on the West Side, Giannetti said. "He was very witty. In July 1962, my brother was getting married to a woman named Sadie Thompson. 'With a name like that,' Lyne kidded, 'you had to get married.'"

When Cardinal Meyer died and Cardinal John Cody replaced him, he made Bishop Cletus O'Donnell pastor of Holy Name. O'Donnell reportedly said he would only take it if "I can get Tim Lyne as rector," Giannetti recalled.

In 1966, Lyne was named assistant pastor at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. A year later, he was appointed rector/pastor, a job he would maintain for 22 years.

During his tenure as pastor of Holy Name, Lyne undertook a major renovation of the 1874-era church. Lyne was appointed auxiliary bishop of Chicago on Nov. 25, 1983 and was consecrated a bishop the following month by Cardinal Bernardin.

Lyne was appointed vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago in February 1984 and vicar for senior priests in 1988. He held that title even after his retirement in January 1995.

In 2007, at the closing Mass celebrating St. Edmund's centennial, Cardinal Francis George couldn't attend because of health concerns. His replacement was a no-brainer.

"He was happy to be back," said Giannetti.

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