On Holy Thursday, March 24, 2016, Fr. James Flanagan, SOLT, founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, peacefully died, surrounded by members of his family, both immediate and spiritual. The SOLTs were established in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1958, the perfect springboard, Father Jim thought, to eventually reach out to people across the globe. Today they are in 13 countries around the world.
Father attended the University of Notre Dame, with studies interrupted by World War II, and was also a player on the football team. When he told his coach, the famous Frank Leahy, that he was leaving the team to study for the priesthood, Coach Leahy said, “That is the best possible life, Jim. You go.”
And go he did. After an unmistakable call from God, Jim established the SOLTs, a Society within the Church that would emphasize relationships as flowing from the Holy Trinity with Mary as the Mother and Mediatrix of this communion.
Their defining characteristics are:
Trinitarian: They exist to give honor and glory to the Most Holy Trinity, to exalt His majesty, and to manifest His greatness.
Marian: They strive to imitate our Blessed Mother Mary in her relationships with the persons of the Trinity, as beloved daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Catholic: As loyal and loving members of Christ and His Vicar on earth, the Pope, they are faithful to the Magisterium and devoted to the Holy Eucharist.
Missionary: They serve in areas of deepest apostolic need, as defined by the local bishops where they serve.
Family: They are a family composed of priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, single laity and families serving together in the missions and bound together in their spirituality.
In his funeral homily, Fr. Peter Marsalek, General Priest of SOLT, said:
Six years after the founding of SOLT, the Vatican II document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, spoke of Mary in a Trinitarian perspective as the beloved daughter of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Son. In my humble opinion, it was a significant and beautiful Providential confirmation of sorts of the inspiration Fr. Jim received to found a community dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. In our call to be the beloved children of the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit working interiorly within us leads us to be conformed to the Image of the Son in order to live as the family of God. And this expression of our spirituality is manifested most beautifully when we are able to serve meaningfully with one another as a family of priests, sisters and lay people, united to Holy Mother Church through the authority of the bishops under whom we serve!
Father Jim, may you rest in peace.