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Father Richard Lyons

Father Richard Lyons was the beloved pastor of All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford, Florida from October 15, 1952 to December 30, 1965. He was the 10th pastor of All Souls and the Knights of Columbus chapter was named in his honor.

Father Lyons retired to Palestine, Illinois after leaving All Souls in 1965 but returned to live in New Smyrna Beach in February 1969. Father Lyons delivered the principal address to the eighth grade graduating class at All Souls Catholic School on Thursday, May 29, 1969, the 43rd anniversary of his ordination. 

It was a shock to all when he died just four days later on June 2, 1969, at Mercy Medical Center in Orlando, after emergency surgery for a blood clot in his abdomen.

Funeral services for Father Lyons were conducted on Friday, June 6, 1969 at All Souls Catholic Church and he was buried at All Souls Catholic Cemetery. Father William T. Keane’s recently discovered eulogy notes follow. It is not known if the eulogy was delivered as written, but the sentiments expressed were shared by all who knew him.

EULOGY NOTES

“Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he will declare judgement to the gentiles … a bruised reed he will not break and a smoking wick he will not quench.”

My dear friends in Christ: This morning just as we have celebrated other events in the life of our former pastor, priest, father and friend, we meet to celebrate the final eternal reward God has given to Father Richard Lyons and to pay our tribute to him.

Father Lyons was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 9th, 1901. He studied at the Divine Word seminary in Techny and was ordained a priest there on May 29th, 1926. For the next 16 years he worked as a member of the Society of the Divine Word in various missions in the Philippines, as a hospital chaplain in Illinois, teacher in Boston and in Greenville, Mississippi. He came to Jacksonville in 1942 as an assistant to Monsignor Meehan at Immaculate Conception Church in Jacksonville. He joined the St. Augustine Diocese in 1951, was appointed pastor in Starke in the same year, and came to Sanford as pastor of All Souls Church in 1952. He retired in 1965 and died on June 2nd, 1969.

These brief details tell us little about the priest we knew. The words of the prophet Isaias have always seemed to me to sum up in some way the goals and achievements of Fr. Lyons as a priest, an indication of how effectively he modelled himself on the Messiah they describe.

While his devoted love for the whole people of God, his compassion for sinners, his kind fatherly counsel for those in trouble and his gentle humour endeared him to everyone, two things especially stand out: his care for the shut-ins and his love for children. Whether he was dealing with the prisoners in Raiford as pastor of Starke or with those confined by illness in home or hospital, he displayed the same dedicated love and service in visiting them, counselling them and comforting them. Even in retirement he spent two years caring for the infirmed as chaplain at St. Joseph’s Home in Palatine. When he died, among his papers were letters from shut-in members of the Catholic Union of the Sick with whom he corresponded.

His concern for the children of the parish has an enduring monument in the parish school which he opened within two years of coming to Sanford. Fittingly his final visit to this parish was to talk to this years graduation class at All Souls School last Thursday.

Also dear to the heart of Father Lyons was the loving and reverent remembrance of our departed relatives and friends. He renovated and improved the parish cemetery where his body will now rest until it is called to take its place in glory on the last day.

Each one of us can recall acts of personal kindness from Fr. Lyons. Yet, while we miss him, we do not mourn him. We realise that he served our divine master faithfully and fully in his life and that he has shared in Christ’s death so that he might share in his resurrection and glory. He has taught us to see death as a checkpoint to eternal life, as the achievement of the eternal crown which God has laid up for him. We apply to him the words of the Book of Wisdom: “He pleased God and was beloved and living among sinners he was translated”.

Our love will incite us to imitate those virtues which he practiced and preached, charity, compassion and service to all of God’s children, fidelity to God’s church and a personal living of each day in the presence of the God with whom our friend is now eternally happy.

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Diploma All Souls Catholic School 1957
All Souls Catholic School diploma to member of the   second    class to graduate the ninth grade.  The graduates  includ...
All Souls Catholic School - Ninth Grade Graduates 1959
Students graduating from ninth grade at All Souls Catholic School in Sanford, Florida are featured in the  Thursday, June 4, 1959 edition...
All Souls Catholic School - School Addition 1959
Photograph and article published in The Florida Catholic on July 3, 1959, p.1, heralding the ground breaking for the school addition at...
Sisters of Christian Charity - All Souls Catholic School 1961
The Sisters of Christian Charity taught children at All Souls Catholic School in Sanford for many years beginning with the opening of...
All Souls Catholic Church - 35th Anniversary - Father Richard Lyons
This is a special insert  in the May 28, 1961 All Souls Catholic Church Sunday Bulletin, announcing a celebration  to commemorate  Father...
Father Richard Lyons - 35th Anniversary of Ordination
Father Richard Lyons, All Souls pastor who made the dream of having a Catholic School at All Souls a reality, celebrated his...
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - March 1953
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - May 1956

Includes information on Father Richard Lyons 30th Anniversary as a Catholic Priest and the suprise celebration hosted by the Parishioners.


All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - June 1956
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - November 1956

Includes information about the planning   for  the Winter Festival. 


All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - December 1956

Includes information on the School Bus and Scouting.


All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - January 1957

Includes information on Scouting and the Mother General visiting her Sisters who taight at All Souls Catholic School.


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All Souls Catholic Church - Welcome Wagon Flyer 1963
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - January 1959
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - April 1961
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - May 1961

Includes information about Father Richard Lyons 35th Anniversary to the priesthood. 


All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - June 1961
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All Souls Catholic Church - Sunday Bulletins - July/August 1961
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All Souls Catholic Church - 1962 Fire

The first All Souls Catholic Church was burned down on January 25, 1932. As unbelievable as it may seem, someone tried to burn down the second church on  September 30, 1962  - 30 years later.  This newspaper article from the Sanford Herald, published October 1, 1962 on the front page,   gives details and a photograph.  There is a transcription of the article at the end   of the document  as it is very difficult to read due to the condition of the image on the original microfilm.

The October 7, 1962 Sunday Bulletin had this announcement regarding the fire:

By now all of your know about the fire that burnt out the vestibule of our Church last   Sunday evening, and damaged the rest of the interior by smoke. We have no  definite information how the fire started, except that it was no accident. By very good fortune it was discovered soon, so that much greater damage would have resulted. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Mrs. Toth who came to visit the Church at the most opportune moment and gave the alarm. All damage is fully covered by insurance, and work of cleaning and restoring has already begun. So many have asked how they could help. For the present, your regular Sunday contributions will be the most acceptable way. Later some particular items needed, will be mentioned and your kind help solicited. Thank you  for the many wonderful expressions of sympathy, the prayers and tears we all shared together! These more than anything, are precious fruits of a bond of kindness and charity among us that is overwhelming. God   Bless  All of You!


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