Joseph Francis Flannelly was born in New York (West Fifty-First Street, Manhattan) on 22nd October 1894, the son of Michael and Mary (née Considine) Flannelly; with brother Frank and sister Marie. His father Michael was the son of Andrew and Margaret (née Lane) Flannelly; with brother John and sisters Ellen, Mary, Bridget, Margaret and Ann. His grandfather Andrew was the son of Peter and Ellen Flannelly. Andrew migrated from Ireland (probably County Mayo) to America (New York City) in 1855.
Joseph attended Blessed Sacrament parochial school (West Seventy-First Street, Manhattan) and graduated in 1908, then attended Cathedral College and graduated in 1913.
He was ordained a priest on 1st September 1918 in St. Patrick's Cathedral after completing his studies at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie (NY), and served the Church of the Holy Rosary in Yonkers (NY) for two decades. During those years he was a member of the priest's choir of the Archdiocese and managed the annual Catholic Charities appeal for the parish. He supervised the parochial school and organised youth activities. For ten years he officiated as the first Catholic Fire Department chaplain in Yonkers, and for fifteen years was chaplain of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus.
In October 1939, he succeeded Monsignor Michael Lavelle as administrator of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and served the cathedral for three decades. During his tenure as adminstrator, he supervised a broad and varied programme of restoration and improvement of the cathedral's structure. In 1942 the high altar with its reredos was replaced by a more liturgical mensa, a baldaquin of neutral bronze was erected, and a new altar was dedicated in the Lady Chapel. He supervised the installation of the great rose window in the west front as well as the bronze panelled doors at the main entrance. He also opened an Information Centre, a Convert Instruction Centre, and a Cathedral Chapel.
In 1941 he was appointed a Papal Chamberlain by Pope Pius XII and in 1943 he was raised to the rank of Domestic Prelate. He was appointed Archdiocesan Consultor in 1948. He was particularly noted for his sermons and civic speeches throughout the turbulent war years and post-war communist tensions.
He was ordained Bishop of Metelis (a titular see created in 1894) and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York on 16th December 1948 and served for more than two decades.
As is customary, the bishop was granted a coat of arms for his use in office, and details of the device are provided on the Heraldry webpage.
He retired on 8th November 1969, and died on 23rd May 1973 aged 78. He is buried in a crypt under the high altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral where he served as administrator for so long.
[his portrait is illustrated above; source unrecorded]