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A Testament to Mary

Kevin Flynn

A special bond between mother and son

Kevin Flynn jests that he was a problem child even before he was born.

Yet, the very serious challenges that his mother, Joan M. Flynn, experienced and overcame during her pregnancy with him are a profound testament to Marian devotion and the boundless love shared by mother and son, a virtue perfectly exemplified by Mary in her infinite love for Jesus.

When Joan was expecting her first child in 1958, she had serious medical complications and made the difficult decision to have an injection treatment that would help her carry her baby to full term. No one knew at the time that this medication would later be linked to cancer.

During that stressful time, Joan prayed intensely to the Blessed Mother. She participated in the Perpetual Novena on nine consecutive Mondays at The Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“I left it in the Blessed Mother’s hands,” she says.

On the ninth day after morning prayer, Joan went home and immediately went into labor eventually giving birth to a healthy baby boy.

In the ensuing years, Kevin would become the eldest of four siblings. Today, he is a successful medical executive specializing in bioethics. Both he and his mom remain devoted to Mary through the intercession of the Miraculous Medal.

Recently, Kevin expressed his family’s multi-generational devotion by supporting St. Vincent’s Rosary Walk and Our Lady of Knock Shrine currently under construction on the Shrine grounds. Kevin sponsored a large paving stone, representing an “Our Father” bead in the Rosary Walk. It will be dedicated to his mother and father, John A. Flynn, as well as his mother’s parents and her two sisters, and Kevin’s best friend who passed away in 2021.

Mother and son will always share a special bond through Our Lady and credit her intercession for blessing their lives through childbirth and in the many years since.

“(My mother’s) prayer was that I would be born healthy,” recalls Kevin. “And then there were some men who came down with cancer who were (in utero) babies when their mothers took that drug. I have always maintained that the Novena she said for me to be healthy is what made the difference in me not coming down with that.”

Like many devotees, generations of the Flynn family have relied  on the Blessed Mother’s help and guidance when life presents them with difficult circumstances. Joan’s mother, Rita Alberta Finn, grew up in walking distance from the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, home of The Miraculous Medal Shrine. She was named in part in honor of a priest who ministered to their family—Father Albert, who is interred in the Vincentian crypt on the Shrine grounds.

Joan, 92, and the youngest of five sisters, recalls attending Monday novenas in the mid-1940s when she was in secondary school and prayed that she performed well on her exams. She and her mother visited the Shrine together, enjoying the communal atmosphere of the novenas, which attracted standing-room-only crowds.

“You couldn’t get into the church through all the different doors,” she recalls. “You went to the front steps, and you lined up there. When the novena was over, (attendees) all went out the side doors. As they emptied the church, the next group came in. We all waited out on the steps and talked. You got to know people.”

Kevin remembers visiting the Shrine with his mother when he was a child. As he grew into adulthood and started a family of his own, his devotion grew, as well. Over the years, he has developed a special appreciation for the Vincentian priests and brothers who serve as stewards of the Shrine.

At various times of his life, Kevin has visited the Shrine and prayed for guidance in his personal relationships and professional career.

“There was a point in my life when I really wanted a different job. I wasn’t happy in the one I had,” he recalls. “I kept coming and praying. And one day, in my mind’s ear, I heard, ‘You’re going to know Wednesday.’ And so, on Wednesday I went to Mass.”

He was hoping for a positive sign but did not receive one.

“I got home, and I remember saying aloud, ‘I thought I was going to know Wednesday,’” he says. “And as I said that, there was a phone call, and they said, ‘Can you come in for an interview on Friday?’”

Nine days later, the employer offered him the job.

Similarly, Joan offers a lifetime of examples of how her devotion to the Blessed Mother has enriched her life and the lives of her loved ones. Just recently, she sought Mary’s intercession for her sister, who was gravely ill and receiving end-of-life care.

While visiting her sister one day, Joan sensed that it was time to call a priest to administer Anointing of the Sick. As they were still awaiting the priest’s arrival, Joan had to leave before it got too dark outside.

“So, I turned it over to the Blessed Mother. All the way home I prayed,” she says. “I made it home, and the priest showed up (at my sister’s bedside) an hour later.”

Joan’s last living sibling passed away that night, but she was in the presence of God. Ironically, it was November 27, 2022, the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.


Visit https://miraculousmedal.org/news-events/st-vincents-rosary-walk/to learn more about St. Vincent’s Rosary Walk and Our Lady of Knock Shrine. Contact Megan Brogan at mbrogan@cammonline.org to support this cause.