Msgr. Thomas Furlong

Obituary

Msgr. Furlong was a parish priest for 40 years

Msgr. Thomas Furlong is being remembered as a great parish priest and promoter of religious vocations, said one product of the monsignor’s influence.

Father Ralph O’Donnell, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, who grew up in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish while Msgr. Furlong was pastor there, served Mass for him and was touched by his prayerfulness and dedication.

“He made the priesthood a very real and attractive life,” Father O’Donnell said, “always encouraging by his example.”

Msgr. Furlong, a retired priest of the archdiocese, died Aug. 6 in Omaha. He was 94.

A funeral Mass was held Aug. 10 at St. Matthew the Evangelist Church in Bellevue, with Father O’Donnell as homilist. Burial was at Calvary Cemetery in Omaha.

Raised in Omaha, Msgr. Furlong attended Our Lady of Lourdes School, Creighton Preparatory School, Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, Saint Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Creighton University in Omaha.

After his ordination in 1960, he served as assistant pastor at Omaha parishes St. Cecilia from 1960 to 1966 and St. Frances Cabrini from 1966 to 1967, and in Atkinson at St. Joseph Parish from 1967 to 1970.

As a pastor, Msgr. Furlong served at St. Leo Parish in Snyder from 1970 to 1971, St. Frances de Chantal Parish in Randolph from 1971 to 1972, and Omaha parishes Sacred Heart from 1972 to 1981 and Our Lady of Lourdes from 1981 to 1992.

“He was a fine preacher, who really taught from the pulpit,” Father O’Donnell said. “And he had a strong commitment to Catholic education.”

While pastor and school administrator at Sacred Heart, he was instrumental in the formation in 1976 of the Christian Urban Education Service, a community-based effort to provide financial support to inner-city Catholic schools. Now known as CUES, the partnership has expanded to also include Holy Name and All Saints schools.

In addition to parish work, Msgr. Furlong also served on the Priest’s Senate, Personnel Board and Retirement Board, and the archdiocesan Finance Committee and Pastoral Council Executive Committee.

His last assignment was as senior associate pastor at St. John Vianney Parish in Omaha from 1992 until his retirement in 2000. He was named monsignor in 2001.

In retirement, Msgr. Furlong was in residence at St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish and later lived at the St. John Vianney Residence in Omaha.

Upon celebration of his golden jubilee in 2010, Msgr. Furlong wrote of his priesthood: “I’m convinced that Jesus meant it when he said, ‘You have not chosen me. I have chosen you.’ The gift of the priesthood, its joys and its mystery, far exceed what one might ask or expect for himself.”