Fenlon, John F.
FENLON, JOHN F.
Sulpician, seminary president; b. Chicago, Ill., June 23, 1873; d. Holland, Mich., July 31, 1943. He was the son of Thomas and Mary (O'Keefe) Fenlon. After early education in a parochial school, he attended St. Ignatius, a Jesuit high school, and at 18 entered St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md. There he was greatly influenced by Revs. Edward R. Dyer and Alphonse L. Magnien, who guided him through philosophy and theology and, even while he was still a seminarian, sent him for advanced studies in Hebrew to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Ordained in Chicago on June 19, 1896, Fenlon spent two years there as assistant at Holy Name Cathedral and then joined the Sulpicians. He was sent at once to the Minerva (Angelica) University, Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology (1900) and did further study in oriental languages at the Sapienzia under Guidi.
On his return to the U.S. in 1901, Fenlon was assigned to teach dogmatic theology and scripture at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, N.Y. He was appointed to the provincial council of his society (1903) and served as superior of the Sulpician house of studies (1904–11) and as president of Divinity College at the Catholic University of America (1911–24), both in Washington, D.C. While there he acted as secretary at the annual bishops' meeting and helped to establish the National Catholic Welfare Conference. In 1924 he became the president of Theological College at Catholic University and in December 1925 succeeded Dyer as president of St. Mary's Seminary and University and provincial superior of the Sulpicians in the U.S. Under his administration, the new St. Mary's Seminary of Theology was opened in suburban Roland Park, Baltimore, in 1929, and St. Edward's Seminary in Seattle, Wash., was begun in 1932. Fenlon wrote articles for the old Catholic Encyclopedia, contributed to many Catholic magazines, and traveled widely in the interest of his society and the institution over which he presided. He was the recipient of honorary degrees from Loyola College, Baltimore (1938), and the University of Montreal, Canada (1943).
Bibliography: p. boisard, Lettre circulaire à l'occasion de la mort de M. Fenlon (Seminaire Saint Sulpice, Issy, Mar. 18, 1946). The Voice (St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore) 21.1–2 (Oct.Nov. 1943). j. t. ellis, The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons, 2 v. (Milwaukee 1952).
[c. m. cuyler]