Furlong, Thomas

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Bishop, founder of three religious institutes; b. Mayglass, County Wexford, Ireland, c. 1803; d. Wexford, Nov. 12, 1875. He entered St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1819 and was ordained in 1826 after a Dunboyne theology course of two years. On June 28, 1827, he became junior dean in Maynooth, and then successively professor of humanities (1829), of rhetoric (1834), and of theology (1845). He was consecrated bishop of Ferns on March 22, 1857. As a bishop he strengthened ecclesiastical institutions and fostered a more personal and interior spirituality among his flock. Based on his deep personal spirituality, especially his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, his labors produced results still in evidence both within the diocese and, through the work of the institutions he founded, far outside it. To promote the better observance of Sundays and holy days, he opposed the prevalent custom of holding fairs and transacting business on those days and also the intemperance so often associated with these practices. He developed the diocesan seminary, St. Peter's College, Wexford. For the education of girls, he introduced six convents of nuns into his diocese. He also completed the cathedral church of St. Aidan, Enniscorthy.

In 1866 he founded the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, diocesan priests who live a common life and, from their headquarters in Enniscorthy, preach missions and retreats in the diocese and outside it. In 1871 he founded the Sisters of st. john of god, a teaching and nursing order that has spread widely in Ireland and abroad. After various attempts to introduce an order of nuns devoted to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he secured papal approval in 1875 for the Institute of Perpetual Adoration, a diocesan congregation of sisters, which has ever since maintained vigil before the Blessed Sacrament in one of the parish churches of Wexford.

Bibliography: w. h. g. flood, History of the Diocese of Ferns (Waterford 1916). Irish Catholic Directory (185775).

[p. j. corish]