With the Holy Family Catholic Church parish growing, Father John Patrick Finn received the mission to build a new, bigger church.
Finn had it done.
The church became the centerpiece of his 16 years at the parish in Luling, but it in no way signified all he did there or in his years as a priest ordained in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Finn passed away on Aug. 25, at the age of 79.
Finn also founded the church’s Busy Bees group, which has helped seniors travel in the U.S.
Rev. Bernard C. Francis, Finn’s friend of more than 25 years, called Finn “a man of great wit and humor.” Francis also said, “He was Irish to the core. He loved to tell stories about Garteen (his home town in Ireland), the local terrain, the surrounding countryside, the people there.”
Francis was pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Church for 37 years and knew Finn for most of them.
He recounted Finn’s many stories about funeral experiences and he kept a record of every funeral liturgy. And there was much to tell, considering the priest had officiated more than 7,000 of them.
“He loved the people of Holy Family Church in Luling,” Francis said. “The parishioners of Holy Family were good to him and he loved every one of them very much. The ongoing challenge for all of us is to be participants in the church and to be Christ in the world.”
From Finn’s many writings, Francis read these comments, “I would be the first to admit that I’ve made many mistakes in my life and that there are things I would have done differently if I had to do them again. But one thing I did right was to listen to the Lord inviting me to his priesthood and I answered that invitation. Looking back, over these years, my advice is serve the Lord, love the people and serve them accordingly. You will always step on a few toes if you’re doing your duty. Do not let this disturb you. Take responsible care of your health and see it as part of the aesthetical. Live in the presence of the Lord. Never slack up on your prayer life, love and honor our Mother Mary.
“The best example we can give others is to let them see we priests really do love one another. I would do it all again if possible. I would not exchange my sharing and presbyterate of New Orleans for anything in the world, having served under four outstanding archbishops.”
Finn was recruited by Archbishop Phillip Hannan in New Orleans and studied with the archdiocese. He completed his training at Notre Dame Seminary, also in New Orleans, and was ordained to the priesthood by Hannan on March 16, 1981.
Francis said Finn’s dedication to the Brazalian missions was unparalleled.
He recounted him sending money to a fellow priest who used it to establish four schools, six hospital clinics and 12 chapels built in the barrios of Rio de Janeiro
“He was fiscally responsible and supremely generous,” Francis said. “He loved to travel, particularly after he retired. He had a marvelous capacity to connect with people. He saw his life as a gift and celebrated it as such. He said, ‘The one who has hope lives differently! Hope is not a fleeting emotion.’”