Catholic teacher Chris Flynn continues to teach well into his seventies

A unique part of my job in travelling around the archdiocese, gathering stories, meeting with members of parish communities and documenting their services, is getting the chance to encounter unique individuals whose lives and witness of faith may never be known outside of their own immediate community and/or family.

With this series, ‘Parishioners in Profile’, we shine a light on devoted persons in our archdiocese and the inspiring witness of faith they live out in their local communities. If you would like to recommend a person (or persons) for this series, please contact us at

This past Christmas Day, Chris Flynn turned 75.

Despite his age, the Peace River resident is far from slowing down. He remains sharp and active, still devoting much of his time to substitute teaching at schools in Peace River, Grimshaw, Berwyn and elsewhere. Not only that, he is a devoted member of Our Lady of Peace parish, staying involved with parish council, parish choirs, lectoring, volunteering with OCIA and more.

He has a lifetime of teaching behind him – spending most of his career in the Catholic school districts of Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta. As well, he seemingly has years of teaching yet ahead. When asked what keeps him continuing to teach into his 70s, Chris says it simply gives him a reason to get up and tackle each day.

“For one thing I’m not sure what else I would do,” he said. “I’m not interested in computers. I always like working with people and I get to know a lot of people in different communities and I enjoy that. As I said to a student recently, it gives me a reason to get up in the morning.

“My wife continues to work in the medical clinic today as a nurse choosing her own hours. So I figured if she’s going to keep working I’ll go too. I’d feel the time long if I was not keeping busy.”

It’s also in gratitude to his health that Chris continues to teach. He underwent a quadruple bypass heart surgery 12 years ago, and his wife Barb is a breast cancer survivor, and she too continues to work part-time into her retirement. Since they both have their health today, they plan to stay active.

Chris began his education career in his hometown of Stephenville, Newfoundland, where he also got his start as a choir director at his local parish. Very early in his teaching career he taught religion to high school students, and this gave him an impetus and desire to learn more about his faith.

In 1979 he did an introductory course during the summer on the Old and New Testaments, and this inspired him to take his studies further and pursue a masters degree in theology. He did this over the course of the following four summers at the La Salle Catholic University in Philadelphia.

“It was something I looked forward to every summer; it gave me an uplift,” Chris said. “It was an enriching experience.”

Chris sees that Catholic education remains valuable precisely in the religious core it gives to education. For many students entering such schools today, Chris notes, their families may not have any religious background or upbringing.

Thus, the Catholic school provides for many students today their main and possibly only experience of religion.

“I think the core aspect of a Catholic school is Christ,” said Chris. “There are religious services there, sacramental preparation is done there, Fr. Nel comes to the schools in Peace River on a regular basis. Nowadays society has become so secularized. I think this gives people the opportunity to see that religion still is a very important component in people’s lives. They get to be exposed to that opportunity in a Catholic school.”

Now substitute teaching into his mid-70s, Chris has many fond memories to look back on as a teacher…

This is only an excerpt. Read the full story in the April 2024 edition of Northern Light