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Flavian Colligan, OFM

Flavian Colligan

1915 – 2002

Fr. Flavian Colligan, OFM, was born on Oct. 12, 1915, in Olean, N.Y., and graduated St. Bonaventure College, where he played varsity basketball and baseball and was an outstanding student.

He was received into the novitiate Aug. 12, 1935, and a year later professed temporary vows, both at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., Fr. Flavian studied theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C., and professed solemn vows there Sept. 17, 1939. At age 24, little more than four years after entering the novitiate, he was ordained a priest on Nov. 1, 1939, at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson.

After a brief summer spell in Paterson, Fr. Flavian began 18 uninterrupted years at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., teaching fundamental Latin and Greek and pastoring the missions of Sacred Heart, Pond Eddy and Our Lady of the Lake, Lake Huntington. In those years, he developed into a memorable teacher for whom classical languages were central to the entire seminary experience, so he taught them with admirable clarity, patience and determination. Despite a low-key style, his wit could be ready and sharp, enabling him to control a class with a look and a quip.

After Callicoon, he became assistant at St. Joseph in Echo Lake, N.J., from 1958 to 1960, assistant at St. Stephen’s in Croghan, N.Y., with charge of New Bremen and Castorland missions, assistant at St. Anne’s in Fair Lawn, N.J., for two years, assistant at St. Patrick’s in Buffalo, N.Y., and teacher at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, N.Y., for one year.

In 1969, Fr. Flavian became assistant again at Croghan with charge of the Belfort and Indian River missions, then in 1971, he taught at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo. He was also pastor of St. Mary of the Angels in Anderson, S.C., from 1972 to 1974.

For the next eight years, Fr. Flavian engaged in joint personal ministry with his brother, Fr. Owen Colligan, OFM, in Upstate New York. He then returned to Croghan as assistant, then went again as assistant at St. Patrick’s until 1986. At age 71, he retired to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., until declining health dictated his transfer to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J.

Fr. Flavian’s star shone brightest as a minor seminary lector, a coach and a country pastor. He was a short, trim, athletic figure — quick and nimble on his feet — and, like most small athletes, he was full of hustle. He was a natural teacher in classroom, pulpit and sporting situations. As a sports fan, his knowledge was encyclopedic, with names and stats at his fingertips. As a pastoral minister, he had a friendly, approachable, down-home manner that contributed much to his success with people, especially the country folk in the many rural places he served.

He died July 12, 2002, at Holy Name Friary. Fr. Flavian was 86 years old, a professed friar for 65 years and a priest for 62 years.