Just a year after his ordination as a Carmelite priest in 1907, Father Lawrence Flanagan went to New York.
On an application for a lost passport that he made in 1923, Father Lawrence stated that he sailed to New York from Southampton in September 1908 and had resided there continuously for 14 years, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1917.
On his 1923 passport application he said that he was intending to visit his father in Ireland for 6 months.
The Carmelite history refers to Father Flanagan’s work as a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown:
Lawrence D. Flanagan was stationed at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown and its mission parishes until he came to the Manhattan parish in 1924. He was a tall man of serious mien whose role among the Irish was that of a trusted advisor. Besides his birth in Westmeath, Ireland, his connection to the Irish Freedom movement was rooted in his long and close friendship with Eamon De Valera, his fellow student at Dublin’s Blackrock College.
The work of Reverend Lawrence Flanagan in New York
The online history paper The Carmelites The Province of St Elias By: Alfred Isacsson, O.Carm. provides a very detailed narrative about the character of Lawrence Flanagan and his work and influence in the Carmelite community in New York:
Lawrence Dionysius Flanagan, Commissary General for 1926-31 and then provincial for the period 1931-43, was a large influence among the New York Carmelites. He was ordained in 1907 and came to New York the following year to Our Lady of the Scapular. Up to 1926, he had been stationed in each house of the New York Carmelites.
His height gave him an imposing presence and his strict religious observance placed fear in some hearts. He included many religious sisters among his friends. He corresponded with them, was present at important ceremonies of their lives and counselled them in times of trial. Especially is this true of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm though he was very reticent and humble about his assistance to them.
Charles Francis Ronayne, Doctor of Theology, who was a consultor to a Roman congregation and former assistant general, came to the United States from Rome in 1927. Magennis had invited Flanagan to accompany him to the 1928 Eucharistic Congress in Australia and he agreed. Flanagan appointed Ronayne his vicar while he was away. The ship had hardly left the harbour when Ronayne assumed complete control.
There was a rumour that was substantiated in time that Magennis took Flanagan with him to leave him in Australia as the superior and then have Ronayne in charge in New York. Word of this got to Flanagan in Australia and it was said he took the first ship home. Lawrence Flanagan returned to find himself accused of mismanagement of funds but he was saved by an alert housekeeper at Saint Simon Stock who preserved material Ronayne told her to destroy. He also found a surprise in Manhattan. A new priory with an elevator had been built at Our Lady of the Scapular.
Flanagan cleared himself and Ronayne left the order and priesthood. He later returned and was at Saint Albert’s until his death in 1950.