Father Furlong remembered for work in family ministry Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012 -- 12:00 AM


Fr. J. Daryl Furlong

MADISON -- Fr. J. Daryl Furlong, a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison who died on March 17, was remembered for his pioneering work in the area of family ministry.

Lorrie Gramer, current president of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) and director of the Office of Family Life in the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., said, that many people remember Father Furlong as director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life in the Diocese of Madison. She noted that he was a founding member of NACFLM and host of the first National NACFLM Conference that was held in Madison.

“He was always smiling, creative, and one of the strongest advocates for marriage and family ministry I knew. Let us all keep Father Daryl in our prayers. May he rest in peace,” said Gramer.

Jeff Heinzen, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life of the Diocese of LaCrosse, received the news of Father Furlong’s death with great sadness. “As one of the first family life directors that we came to know, he gave us great inspiration around the Natural Family Planning (NFP) program. May he rest in God’s everlasting peace,” said Heinzen.

Father Furlong was one of 16 children born to Thomas E. and Lorena (Legler) Furlong of Hazel Green. Eight of his siblings survive him. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Patrick Church in Janesville. Interment was at St. Francis de Sales Parish Cemetery, Hazel Green.

Sue Gilbert of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in La Crosse said Father Furlong was very connected to his family roots in the little mining town of Hazel Green. “He taught me what it means to provide family ministry with a heart, not just a head. May God grant him the rewards from a generous and loving life,” she said.

Beverly Hartberg, Verona, worked with Father Furlong in the Diocese of Madison’s office. “On a personal note, all of my sons described Father Daryl as a kind and caring person. In his kindness, he was a dear friend to our family, was godfather to our son Darren, who was also named for him, and provided a deep mantle of faith for our sons to follow,” said Hartberg.

“Father Daryl was an inveterate minister — it was in his blood — who had great vision of how family ministry might transform a parish community into a parish family,” she said.

“He called others to ministry by recognizing their gifts, empowering them with confidence, and mentoring them in like-to-like ministry, such as married couples ministering to engaged couples, those experiencing loss helping others coping with loss or death, and those dealing with divorce or troubled marriages to find support in their faith.”

Father Furlong wrote the book, Listening to Families, along with developing a parish survey to assess the family needs of parish members.

While in the diocesan office, Father Furlong administrated and coordinated Marriage Preparation, FOCCUS, Marriage Encounter, parish family ministry teams, parish ministry training survey, clergy education, Rainbows (for All God's Children), parenting education, NAIM (for those widowed), and implemented bishops’ documents on family ministry.

Father Furlong received an additional master’s degree in family ministry from Regis University in Denver, Colo., and was instrumental in the initial formation of NACFLM, which today partners with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on marriage and family initiatives.

In his retirement years, Father Furlong continued to minister to his fellow priests by opening his Florida residence for priests to visit during the winter months.

“Truly a faithful man, a dedicated priest, a great cook, a wonderful mentor, and an amazing man of both caring and humor, Father Daryl will be dearly missed,” said Hartberg.

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