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U of St. Thomas names building for Archbishop Flynn

Selby Hall, a residence for undergraduate students at the University of St. Thomas, has been renamed Flynn Hall in honor of Archbishop Harry Flynn.

Flynn served as head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 1995 until he retired in 2008. He has been chair of the St. Thomas Board of Trustees since 1995 and was told about the honor Thursday at the board’s spring meeting.

St. Thomas opened the 418-bed hall in September 2005 and, at the time, informally named it Selby Hall because of its location on Selby Avenue. There was no Bishop Selby.

The university has a practice of awarding naming rights to buildings when a gift of at least half of the construction cost is given or pledged. Recently, more than a dozen of Flynn’s friends and admirers came together to commit more than $14 million to St. Thomas to secure the building’s naming rights for him.

The building cost $28 million, but since the hall already is built and financed,  the donations will go to the $500 million Opening Doors capital campaign, which has a top priority of student financial aid.

The naming is in keeping with a 115-year-old tradition of naming buildings at St. Thomas and the St. Paul Seminary after the bishops and archbishops who have led the Catholic Church in this region since 1837. There are 13 buildings named after 11 bishops and archbishops.

Flynn is a New York native and former bishop of Lafayette who moved to Minnesota in 1994 to serve as coadjutor archbishop under Archbishop John Roach. Flynn became archbishop the following year and retired as ordinary of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis last May. He maintains an office and a residence on the St. Thomas campus.

Soon, they'll have to start looking for a building to name for his successor, Archbishop John Nienstedt.

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