By Bob Uphues
Long before he was named a bishop by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1983, the Most Rev. Timothy Lyne had endeared himself to a generation of parishioners at St. Mary's in Riverside. Fifty years after he left the parish, those he touched still fondly recall the 19 years he spent as the parish's administrator.
"He left Riverside, but he never left our hearts," said Judy Scully, whose parents celebrated every major event with Lyne through the years. Lyne was ordained a priest and assigned to St. Mary's the same year Scully's parents married — in 1943. Last May, Lyne came to their 70th wedding anniversary party.
"He had just been so much a part of the family," Scully said. "He maintained really close ties with so many of us and our families."
Bishop Lyne, 94, died Sept. 25, 2013 at the rectory named in his honor at Holy Name Cathedral.
Those who knew Lyne said he had a deft personal touch — he had a remarkable ability to remember names, even if he hadn't seen someone in years — which inspired confidence, and he was a diligent administrator, who had the ability to oversee large construction projects.
While administrator at St. Mary's from 1943 to 1962, the parish underwent tremendous growth. He oversaw the construction of a new school building in 1952 and the construction of a new convent (since converted to a single-family home) in 1959 to house more than a dozen nuns who taught at the school.
"For every priest, his first assignment always has a special place in his heart," wrote Lyne in a history of the parish published in 1983 on the occasion of its 110th anniversary. "St. Mary's was my first and longest assignment — 19 years — so the first people to call me 'Father' will always be a part of my life."
He was also praised as a preacher and as a counselor, according to parishioners who knew him. Lyne seemed to sense when you needed someone to talk to, said Mary McMahon, who moved to Riverside with her husband, Neal, and their children in 1954.
"You'd walk away with a great feeling of peace, like 'Those were the words I needed,'" McMahon said. "He was able to read people very well."
Lyne officiated at the wedding of longtime parishioners Dr. Ron and Donna Lorenzini in 1958 and remained part of the family's life. He married all of their children and baptized 12 of their 13 grandchildren.
"He was always available," said Donna Lorenzini. "He had a profound influence on many people's lives. He loved seeing the families."
Lyne could also be inventive to solve problems. Tired of hearing school parents complain that they wanted a greater say in the instruction at the school since they were paying tuition, Lyne abolished tuition, according to McMahon.
Instead, from the pulpit he asked that every working Catholic donate a certain amount of money per month in place of charging tuition at the school. And he meant it. He told parishioners, "If you don't give it to me at the front door, I'll go to your back door," McMahon said.
The practice continued until Lyne left in 1962, according to McMahon.
Among those who were around in 1962, Lyne was never supposed to go. Cardinal Samuel Stritch reportedly promised Lyne the job of pastor of St. Mary's upon the death of Father William A. Murphy, for whom Lyne served as administrator. But Stritch died in 1958 and when Murphy died in 1962. Stritch's successor, Cardinal Albert Meyer, assigned Father John Brown as pastor.
That same year, Lyne was transferred to St. Edmund Parish in Oak Park, where he remained until 1966.
"He was very upset," said McMahon. "He hoped this would be his home."
In 1966, Lyne was named assistant pastor at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. A year later, he was appointed rector/pastor, a job he would maintain for 22 years.
During his tenure as pastor of Holy Name, Lyne undertook a major renovation of the 1874-era church. Lyne was appointed auxiliary bishop of Chicago on Nov. 25, 1983 and was consecrated a bishop the following month by Cardinal Bernardin.
Lyne was appointed vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago in February 1984 and vicar for senior priests in 1988. He held that title even after his retirement in January 1995.
But even after retirement, he continued to return to Riverside to preside at Mass during important occasions in the lives of St. Mary parishioners. After a renovation of St. Mary Church in 2003, Lyne returned to rededicate the building.
"He always considered himself a pastor," said Scully. "He loved working with the people. He followed doctrine, but people were people."