Msgr. Daniel J. McGlynn, who died Jan. 1 at the age of 84, was remembered as a warm and giving priest, chaplain and friend by those who knew and worked with him in his nearly 42 years as a priest in the Diocese of Wilmington.
His first assignment after his ordination in 1982 was at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Salisbury, Md., where Michele Harris was a teacher in the parish school. She eventually became the director of religious education at St. Francis de Sales and is now retired.
“He was such a great guy,” she recalled Jan. 2. “My husband and I had him as the officiant for our wedding, and then he baptized our first child.”
Msgr. McGlynn was always available to help if she needed anything in her classroom, and Harris said she learned a lot from their conversations. The priest worked on the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program at the parish, convincing Harris to be a sponsor for a person entering the Catholic Church.
“I probably learned as much as my person did that I was sponsoring,” she said.
Msgr. Charlie Brown became the pastor at St. Francis de Sales in 1986, and his time at the parish overlapped with Msgr. McGlynn by a year. They became good friends and kept in touch over the years no matter where their assignments took them. They were even made monsignors at the same time and vacationed together one time in Greece.
“He was a wonderful man. He had a big heart,” said Msgr. Brown, now retired from active ministry. “He was a great teacher of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”
“He was just a fine, fine man, and a fine priest.”
Msgrs. Brown and McGlynn actually met in the 1970s when Msgr. Brown was an associate pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in north Wilmington. Msgr. McGlynn was a friend of the late Father James Richardson, who was stationed at IHM with Msgr. Brown.
Both Father Richardson and Msgr. McGlynn were in recovery. Msgr. Brown said Msgr. McGlynn led retreats for members of Alcoholics Anonymous in Malvern, Pa.
Harris said Msgr. McGlynn “was willing to put himself out there. He shared his story. It was a story of redemption.”
Harris recalled when her first child was baptized, she wanted the school community to be part of the sacrament. She convinced Msgr. McGlynn to allow the young students to sit on the floor near the baptismal font so they could see the baptism. Then she wanted him to take her son down the aisle so the older students could see the baby.
According to Harris, Msgr. McGlynn held up her son like Rafiki held up Simba in “The Lion King.”
“That’s exactly how he held the baby,” she recalled with a laugh.
“I can’t imagine anyone not liking him. He loved to laugh. He had a great laugh.”
After leaving St. Francis de Sales in 1987, Msgr. McGlynn was assigned briefly to St. Elizabeth Parish in Wilmington, then to Immaculate Conception Parish in Elkton, Md. In 1991, he moved to Corpus Christi Parish in Elsmere. He returned to Immaculate Conception as pastor in 1993, a post he held until 2002. That year, he was named pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Dover, where he served until retiring in 2013. He continued to live at Holy Cross during his retirement.
Along with his parish assignments, Msgr. McGlynn, a Philadelphia native, served on various committees for the diocese and was assistant vocation director for a time.
Before studying for the priesthood, Msgr. McGlynn spent three years in the Army before joining the Department of the Navy and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as a personnel administrator, according to a Dialog article from 1982.
Another of the connections he made while in Salisbury continued the rest of his life. When he arrived at St. Francis de Sales, Sister Mary Elizabeth Gintling, foundress of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary, asked the priest to be the community’s chaplain.
“He has been our chaplain ever since,” said Sister Marilyn Bouchard, the current superior of the order. “No matter where he moved, he would come monthly to see us,” only missing because of inclement weather or vacations. “He was there for all of our special occasions, both sad and happy.”
He was not only a chaplain, he was their confessor, friend, teacher and spiritual director, Sister Marilyn said. Msgr. McGlynn had not been down to see them for a few months, however, as he recovered from an injury suffered after a fall. She said the priest “was such a part of us.”
She said he was an excellent homilist and retreat director. He continued to be a resource for people in his retirement.
“He was just one of a kind. The classic message that he always gave to us is that God loves you. That was almost like his mantra. He just had a way of saying it in so many ways,” Sister Marilyn said.
“He was just a real shining star for us.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Included in this April 2015 feature on four retired priests is Msgr. Dan McGlynn. The video is a production of the Diocese of Wilmington Communications Office.