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An attitude of gratitude accentuates his senior years

By Dolores Madlener | Staff Writer
Sunday, July 7, 2013

(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

He is: Bishop Timothy Lyne, ordained at Mundelein Seminary May 1, 1943, was associate pastor for 19 years at St. Mary’s in Riverside and three years at St. Edmund Parish, Oak Park, before moving to Holy Name Cathedral in 1966. Served as associate pastor for one year then rector of the cathedral from 1967 until 1990. Ordained auxiliary bishop 1983; served as episcopal vicar for Vicariate II. From 1988 to today, has been vicar for senior priests. Retired from other ministries in 1995.

Family life: “My dad was a police officer at the Shakespeare Avenue station. I grew up with two brothers and a sister. We were West Siders.” He went to Resurrection and St. Mel schools, then Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and on to Mundelein. “Priesthood was encouraged in my family, and also by Msgr. Purcell, pastor of St. Mel when I was a kid in school. He had been rector at Quigley. I’m the only priest in our family. Mercy Sister Sheila Lyne is a cousin.”

West Side Irish: “Both of my parents were born in County Kerry, my dad from Caherciveen and my mother from Castlegregory. They met here in Chicago.” His long life has spawned some legends. Like the one that he sometimes said Mass in Gaelic. “I don’t know Gaelic, but I said Mass many times at Old St. Pat’s on St. Patrick’s Day and was the grand marshal of Chicago’s parade once.”

What’s stayed with him since his days at Mundelein: “Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand was the rector at the time. He inspired his young seminarians to be interested in the social teaching of the church. That stayed with me deeply. Certainly I’ve also continued to say the divine office every day as well as the rosary.

“I’m very grateful, not only that God gave me the priesthood, but gave me a love of it. I think sometimes people find their vocation hard. I’ve enjoyed mine. I have always been very grateful to God for my priesthood.”

Cardinals he’s known: “I have been fortunate to have known six cardinals. Each one was a fascinating person who influenced me and my life in a way for which I will always be grateful. Cardinal Mundelein; Cardinal Stritch, who ordained me; Cardinal Meyer; Cardinal Cody, who appointed me to the cathedral; Cardinal Bernardin, under whom I became an auxiliary bishop; and Cardinal George, who has graced the last 16 years of my priesthood.”

Today’s newly ordained: “I think we’re very fortunate to get students from Latin America, Africa and Poland, but I think it’s most important we develop our own Chicago men. Our archdiocese has a series of plans to help that happen. We have had Father Brian Welter as the director of vocations. He and Father Dick Miller have done a very good job of attracting men who are college graduates who have worked in the world. We now have a number of seminary students, Chicago people, who came into the priesthood a bit later.”

Active in interreligious and ecumenical dialogue: “The whole thing started in Cardinal Bernardin’s day with our attempts to solve some of the racial problems in Chicago. I became a member of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, when Bernardin started it. Then I was also in the Illinois Council of Churches. I’ve gotten to know the people who head the various faiths in the Chicago area and have developed some interesting friendships with them.”

Bishop Lyne Home: “It is a point of pride. Catholic Charities just had a dinner honoring me, and raised quite a bit of money for Bishop Lyne Home and Holy Family Villa, next door to it.” Senior priests have a sense he’s got their backs, that he looks out for them. “First of all I think it’s good for any priest to have friendships with other priests — it’s very important in sustaining his priesthood. So I’m very pleased with my relationship with the senior priests. It’s a mutual affection. I’ve been their vicar since 1988.”

Leisure: “Up until last year I was a golfer. I’m an opera lover — I’ve had tickets for the Lyric since 1956.” He’s had some eye sight issues at different times: “God was very good to me. My doctors, through a couple of corneal transplants, have gotten me to the point where I can read again.”

Rumor has it he can recite poetry. “Yes, I know a lot of poetry by heart. I always have had a love for it. Fortunately God gave me a good memory. I memorize my talks, too. [Bishop] Fulton Sheen gave us a retreat one time, and I remember he said, ‘You always write the stuff out, but you never read it.’ I prefer to work from an outline and have my three points and a conclusion.”

His favorite comfort food is simple: “Chocolate ice cream.” And he’s never lonely, “I like people. I still have a lot of friends from all those places I’ve served.”

Favorite Scripture verse: “My motto as a bishop is: ‘Grace, mercy and peace.’ It’s the first three words of St. Paul’s epistle to Timothy (the bishop’s patron saint).