In Memory of Rev. Thomas J. Lyons

"Fr. Lyons was a gentle man of God who cared for and gave so much to all those he ministered to."

Fr. Lyons Was a Priest for 56 Years

Father Thomas J. Lyons, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn for 56 years, died Jan. 22, 2009, at SS. Joachim and Anne Nursing Home, Coney Island. He was 81.

Born in Brooklyn, he was baptized at Holy Name Church, Park Slope, and attended Our Lady of Angels Seminary, Niagara, and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. He was ordained June 7, 1952.

He served as an assistant at Corpus Christi, Woodside, 1952-63; St. Ephrem’s, Dyker Heights, 1963-69; and Resurrection, Gerritsen Beach, 1969-73. In 1971, he was named administrator of St. Teresa of Avila, Sterling Pl., and served as pastor there from 1976 to 1979. From 1979 to 2004, he was an assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Father Lyons was celebrated Jan. 26 at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Retired Bishop Thomas V. Daily was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included: Msgrs. Edward Bottino and George Graham and Fathers Martin Hall, Joseph Wiseman and Kieran Harrington. Father William Krlis preached the homily.

“We met more than 40 years ago when we worked in ministry together at Resurrection,” Father Krlis recalled. The two became good friends and Father Krlis often enjoyed Thanksgiving and other holidays with the Lyons’ family, which he described as a “big Irish clan.” In 2002, the family came together to celebrate Father Lyons’ 50th anniversary of ordination, and his 80th birthday in 2007.

He noted that his friend always had a “unique way of organizing. He’d have a mile-long set of papers from his door to his desk. Some people said it was ‘chaos,’ but he knew where everything was.”

During his longest assignment at St. Thomas Aquinas, Father Krlis said his friend “became an icon because of his pastoral sensitivity. He was available to people at all times of day or night.”“He came from a different age. He was a great listener. He was able to communicate so well with people,” Father Krlis said.

The interpersonal connections he made were evident, Father Krlis noted, at the transferral and funeral Masses, which were “jammed with people who have known and loved him for years.” In recent years, a stroke limited Father Lyons’ ability to speak and verbally communicate with others, but he remained an understanding and caring listener. Father Krlis added that the “challenge he leaves us is to enflesh” the same behaviors.

Father Lyons is survived by his sisters, Sister Anne Lyons, S.B.S. of Bensalem, PA., Mary Callahan of Massapequa, and Margaret Lyons of Manhattan. Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush.

This obituary appeared in The Tablet, 1/31/2009, p.9.