MANISTIQUE - "I don't have a pipeline to God. You have to trust that quiet whisper," said Marty Flynn of his decision relatively later in life to study for the priesthood.
Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Diocese of Marquette ordained Marty as a transitional deacon in December 2011 and ordained him to the priesthood on Dec. 14 at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette.
"Becoming a priest never crossed my mind until I was 31," Rev. Marty said. "I didn't have a solid relationship with Christ until later in life. You need that in order to hear that small voice. And then I fought it for nine years!"
Rev. Marty Flynn
Marty Flynn was born in Marshall, Mich., the son of Bob and Ellen Flynn. His family moved to Gulliver when he was 4 years old. They attended Divine Infant of Prague Church in Gulliver, and Flynn went to St. Francis de Sales School in Manistique through eighth grade. He attended Manistique High School through his junior year. Then his family moved to Steuben, north of Manistique, and he graduated from Bay de Noc High School. The new priest has five brothers; three sisters, one of whom died a few years ago; and 22 nieces and nephews.
Flynn's family returned to the Manistique area, and he worked for three years in the woods in the family business. Then he went to work for Timber Products and managed four rental properties over the next 18 years.
"I became more involved in the church, grew to know my faith, and went to Eucharistic Adoration," he said. "I began praying to know God's will for my life. I hadn't done that before. I had always prayed about what I wanted to do. It was during those quiet times that I could feel the call. It was like a magnet pulling me to the seminary."
Five years after entering Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., Flynn was ordained a transitional deacon. Typically, seminarians are ordained as transitional deacons in their final year, he explained. Transitional deacons are more active in ministry and can administer some of the sacraments.
Rev. Marty said, "We are servants who visit the sick and poor; we live a life of service to the people of God in a variety of different ways." His service has included working at homeless shelters, meal programs for the poor, hospital ministry, and hospice. "You do what you can," he said.
Following his ordination as a priest, Rev. Marty celebrated his first Mass on Dec. 15 at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Manistique. Bishop Sample then appointed him to serve as an associate pastor of a parish in the Diocese of Marquette.
To any man thinking about becoming a priest, he offers this advice: "If you feel you're being called, try it or you will never know. I put it off for nine years, and I spent that time in limbo. If it's not a true calling, at least you'll know, and you can go on and do something else. Go to the seminary, give it a full, good chance."
The trend for awhile was for older, more life-experienced men to enter the seminary. But Rev. Marty says his perception is that the trend is going back to younger men again. "I think Pope John Paul II inflamed the hearts of good, solid young men," he said. "At least, at Sacred Heart, that seems to be happening. I think there are more men entering seminary, too. I think that nationwide, there's been a slight increase."
For that trend to continue, Rev. Marty said families must pray together. "That's foundational to vocations and the priesthood. My parents taught me more about faith than any textbook, through their example. We prayed together almost every night. It didn't matter whether I had friends over or what was on TV, we prayed together."