Rev. John R. Lynch, 70, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 45 years, died on July 10, 2012 at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston as a result of a head injury received in a fall at his home on July 1. Father Lynch had served most recently as associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Chicago.
Born in Oak Park, he received his elementary education in Catholic schools in Chicago. He graduated from Quigley Preparatory Seminary in 1960 and was ordained by Cardinal Cody in 1967, after graduating from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. From 1967 to 1976, Fr. Lynch was the assistant pastor of Our Lady Gate of Heaven Parish on Chicago's South Side. During this time, he was a student at Roosevelt University, earning a master's degree in clinical psychology.
From 1976 to 1982, he was associate pastor at Old St. Patrick Parish in Chicago. During part of this period, Fr. Lynch was the supervisor of deacons studying at Mundelein. He was also the field education supervisor from 1971 to 1983 and an instructor beginning in 1980 at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. From 1975 to '77, he served as a campus minister at St. Xavier University in Chicago. Between 1976 and 1982, Fr. Lynch studied at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, earning a doctorate in clinical psychology. From 1982 to 1992, he was associate pastor at St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago.
Beginning in 1983, he took on additional duties at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., first in formation (1983-1986) and then as an adjunct faculty member (1986-1992). During this same period, he was associate formation director and an associate professor at Niles College Seminary at Loyola University. From 1992 to '94, he was on the staff of the Mission of Our Lady of Mercy, now called Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.
In 1994, he returned to St. Gertrude for one year before being named administrator in 1995 of St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Parish in Oak Park. The following year, he was named pastor, a position he held until 1999. In 2000, he was named associate pastor at St. Gertrude, serving for a year. In 2001, he became the associate pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Chicago, where he served until his retirement from active ministry in 2011.
"He was an excellent listener and advisor," said Christine Vernon, a St. Catherine parishioner and former member of the school board. "He had an easy rapport with young people because he was non-judgmental and compassionate. He was a very practical person and would always say, "Lead by example." He never really wasted time proselytizing but just helped people when he could or when he was asked and lived a life of service.
"He was an excellent photographer and had a show at the Oak Park Public Library of a fraction of what he has done over the years. He had a massive body of work from travels all over the world. He scheduled travel into his life on a regular basis and he was very skilled at making his way in another culture as many of us saw who went on a pilgrimage with him.
"When our son died two years ago this August, Father Lynch was recovering from surgery, but he called me every morning during that first week to see how we were doing. It surprised me at the time that he thought to do that each day, given the difficulty of his own situation at that time. As I look back at that now, I can tell you those calls helped me to stay grounded. I feel enormous gratitude to him for that kindness.
"Father Lynch was a remarkable man," Vernon said, "a well-educated intellectual, cultured, had a great sense of humor, gracious, generous, hard-working. He was an ideal priest."
Rev. John Lynch is survived by his sister, Jeanne Bassie and his brothers, Timothy and Thomas Lynch. He has requested that his body be donated to science. A memorial Mass will be offered at a later date.