Monsignor Edward J. Lynch, pastor emeritus of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where he was a much-beloved figure for years, died Sunday at Stella Maris Hospice of bacteremia, a blood disorder. He was 84.
"He was a really good human being and a Christian gentleman," said Auxiliary Bishop William C. Newman, who had been close friends with Monsignor Lynch since their high school days, when they faced off on the basketball courts of Calvert Hall College High School and Towson Catholic High School.
"He was a faithful and a holy priest, and a loving and caring pastor. He was a true shepherd, a la Jesus, who knew the people and they knew he was interested in them," said Bishop Newman who was at his friend's side when he died. "He was always available for the people he loved very much."
The Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, was also a close friend of many years.
"He was a prince among men and one of the good guys who was refreshingly normal," said Father Roach. "He had an innate kindness that was striking, and there was never a more pleasant priest."
The son of Edward J. Lynch, a postal worker, and Hazel M. Kernau Lynch, a homemaker, Edward Joseph Lynch was born in Baltimore one of five siblings. He was raised on Banbury Road in the Idlewylde neighborhood near Towson.
He was only 9 days old when he was baptized in 1929 at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, a church that would figure prominently in his pastoral career 40 years later.
He attended Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic elementary school for eight years before entering Towson Catholic High School, from which he graduated in 1946.
After earning a bachelor's degree in business in 1949 from what is Loyola University Maryland, he went to work as an accountant at Swift & Co. in Baltimore.
Each morning before going to work, he attended the daily 6:30 a.m. Mass at Immaculate. It was then that he began thinking of joining the priesthood.
"I started observing the priests at my parish, and I thought, gee, what a wonderful thing they're doing, maybe I could do that," he told The Catholic Review in 2007, on the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
"He was dating girls then, and I think he waited until two days before he entered the seminary to tell his girlfriend," Dolores Lynch, a sister-in-law who lives in Beltsville, said with a laugh.
Monsignor Lynch spent a year at St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, where he studied Latin, before being sent to St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park in 1955, where he studied theology.
He was ordained in 1957 at the Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Archbishop Francis P. Keough.
His first pastoral assignment was Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Woodlawn, where he taught children to play basketball and baseball.
During his tenure there, which coincided with the parish celebrating its 100th anniversary, he earned the informal title of "Vicar of Towson."
His accomplishments during the next 17 years included building a free-standing bell tower on the southwest corner of the church's high ground overlooking Bosley Avenue. He also relocated the parish offices from the rectory, expanded the parking lot, expanded the rectory by adding two new apartments and had the heating system updated for all the buildings on the parish campus.
Even though he retired in 2000, he continued to offer the 6:30 a.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception and assisted at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Fallston.
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.