Friday, December 24, 2010


Johnnie Flynn was a Catholic, a good Catholic, and a very good friend of Peter's.  "Why don't you become a Catholic, Peter, so that we can spend eternity in heaven together?" Peter, a devout Christian, had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior at a very early age, and so Peter knew that he would be spending eternity with the Lord and hopefully with Johnnie Flynn.

Johnnie had 8 children and lived in Newtonville on Edinborough Street.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, Dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat and Flynn had no money to pay for a serviceman -- it was 10 degrees above zero. 

Soon after the phone call, Harry Moosheghian,  a good friend of my dad's, happened by our house, as he was wont to do. "Mooshegh, let's go over to Johnnie Flynn's and see what's going on with his furnace."   Dad and Harry drove over to Edinborough Street, and while the Flynns were asleep, Dad and Harry broke into the basement through the bulkhead door, flashlights in hand. Dad found the problem immediately:  the motor on the oil burner was burnt out, and all of the supply houses were closed, of course. It was Christmas Eve! But Peter was not daunted. He and Mooshegh went to Dad's basement where he stockpiled used parts (for just this kind of emergency) and -- he found the exact motor -- make, style, & model -- just waiting to give heat once again. . . And so it was that Peter gave warmth to Johnnie Flynn and his family on Christmas Eve.

A few days after Christmas, Johnnie Flynn stopped by Newtonville Electrical Company (Dad's store) to report the good news.

"Peter, it was a miracle. Last week we had no heat, our furnace wouldn't turn on, it was 10 degrees above zero, but on Christmas Eve . . . a miracle, Peter . . . the heat came on! Now will you become a Catholic?"  Peter said nothing more than,  "Johnnie, that was truly a miracle."


  1. I'm catholic also,butI'm sure that your Peter will get the eternal life with our Lord .
    Garo Derounian

  2. My version, lifted from the eulogy I wrote for our dad.

    “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.” This was the evangelism for Roman Catholicism that daddy would hear often enough from Johnny Flynn, a close friend, and one of the salesmen that frequented Newtonville Electrical Company, the business established, owned and operated by daddy and his brother, Uncle Paul. Johnny Flynn was six feet tall, 3 inches taller than my father, had those telltale Irish brown eyes that looked at home on the face of a boy, but always improbable on the face of an adult. He was a spare man with unsparing freckles over all his face, faded, then, from the onset of middle age. He was an average catholic for those days of the last years of the Korean War, if you counted the six children he had. Dad never took issue with Johnny Flynn’s declarations of miracles awaiting any who were blessed to be Roman Catholic or might become Roman Catholic, or his attempts at proselytizing. On Christmas Eve, 1951, dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat, and had been that way for a couple of days. Dad wondered why he had not been told by Johnny, a good friend, and then he realized, no doubt, Flynn was too embarrassed to admit he did not have the funds to pay for a service call. Dad advised Harry Mooseghian, a protégé of his, to meet him late in the evening so they could embark on an adventure together. When it was dark enough and late enough, while Flynn’s family slept, the two snuck into the cellar of Flynn’s home, through the unlocked bulkhead doors. Sure enough, the culprit was a faulty oil burner. Dad returned to his store, found a model identical to the one Flynn had, stole back into the cellar a second time through the bulkhead doors, and exchanged the good oil burner for the ruined one. The following Friday, Johnny Flynn, visiting dad along with all the regulars that met there on late Friday afternoons for coffee and donuts, breathlessly recounted the tale of the miracle of waking up on Christmas morning, the week before, to a home well heated. For two days the Flynn family had shivered through the misery of December cold that hovered just above freezing, and on Christmas morning awakened to a home delivered and resurrected from the dead of winter. Johnny Flynn, flush with the proof of one more miracle in his life, and because of his deep affection for my father, tried again to convert Peter with, “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.” Johnny Flynn went to his grave never knowing the story of his deliverance.
    Whether it was helping out widows locally, or Armenian orphans in Beirut, or anybody else the Lord called upon him to help, it was done quietly, always.

  3. @PetersonThank you, Peterson. Your telling of the story has much depth and compassion.