Father George Flynn in the early days of PROSAN. Pilot photo/ Courtesy St. James Society
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When the archdiocese reached out to Latin America, Father George Flynn, a Chelmsford native was among the first group of Boston priests to join the Missionary Society of St. James. Moved by the fact that there were so many people and so few priests that the Church was in danger of losing untold millions of its people, Father Flynn was first assigned to the inner-city slum parish of San Ricardo in Lima, Peru for two years. He also served in Bolivia and Ecuador. With each assignment, however, it became increasingly clear that there were simply too many people in too many remote areas to be served effectively.
There had to be a way of reaching those people. So, in 1972, Father Flynn returned home for a year and a half to study media at the famed Boston University School of Communication.
Upon returning to Lima, he set up a production center at the society’s center house he named PROSAN -- St. James Productions. From that studio he produced and beamed taped programs, documentaries, reflections, and even radio dramas to St. James’ priests in other countries and for use in local radio stations in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Beyond evangelization and doctrine, programs also featured specials devoted to human and social development in three languages which included Spanish as well the native Quechua. As every modern missionary, Father Flynn involved the active participation of local professionals.
Over the past 35 years, PROSAN has brought Christ to some 1 million listeners every week. Some 9,300 programs each year are distributed to 60 radio stations in Peru and six stations in Bolivia.
So, how does a project of this dimension afford to keep up with all the latest technology necessary to turn out high quality programs? “Well, of course, I can count on help from the St. James Society. In addition, I solicit the pastors in the archdiocese each year. Boston priests are particularly generous when another Boston priest asks for help. They know what I am doing and, in their own way, they are sharing in my apostolate,” Father Flynn explained.
In 2005, PROSAN moved into new office facilities near the society’s center house which provided more space for the installation of new computerized equipment offering presentations in digital and analog.
This year, Father Flynn will mark 49 years as a missionary priest serving the poorest of the poor. In the past 35 years, through PROSAN, he has spread the good news of the Gospel through some 9,000 programs. “I just want to thank the people of the archdiocese for supporting the society in general and PROSAN in particular. I generally don’t like personal publicity, but I am happy for the opportunity to publicly thank pastors who have reached out to support a fellow Boston priest. Without them, I don’t know what I would do,” he said.
Frank Mazzaglia is a columnist and a layman associated with the Society of St. James.