West Thomas Flannery was born in London, Canada, on 22nd December 1897; the son of Patrick and Polly (née Birmingham) Flannery. He was ordained on 21st May 1921 in St. Peter's Cathedral in London, and studied theology in Rome for two years. West was awarded the degrees of Ph.L. (1922) and S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology, 1923) from Angelicum, which earned him the nickname "Doc Flannery" among friends and colleagues.
He returned to London to teach at St. Peter's Seminary, and held the post of Professor of Dogmatic Theology from 1930 until 1950. He was fluent in Latin and Italian, which endeared him to the growing Italian population of London.
He began his religious programme "School of Christ" in 1939 on CFPL radio. Within two years it was used on CKLW in Windsor and CFRB in Toronto. The programme, in which sixth grade pupils asked him questions on religion, moved to CFPL-TV in 1954 and was on the air for twenty-four years. The success of the programme was attributed to his gift for making profound truths simple.
He was raised to monsignor in 1950, and served as pastor of St. Martin's parish in south London until he retired in 1968. On his retirement, his parishioners gave him a trip to Rome where he enjoyed a private audience with Pope Paul VI, discussing the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in fluent Italian.
In 1955, West was awarded the degree of LL.D. (Honoris Causa) by the University of Western Ontario in London.
Still not ready for complete retirement, he moved to Lambeth and served as pastor of St. Dominic's, a mission of St. Martin's, for another seven years. He died on 24th December 1978.
[his portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of St. Martin's parish website]