Feast of Paul Hanly Furfey (June 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Vincent’s Chapel, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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PAUL HANLY FURFEY (JUNE 30, 1897-JUNE 8, 1992)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Sociologist, and Social Radical

Apostle for Social Justice

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Men are not won over to our faith by logic but by seeing the Church in action.

–Paul Hanly Furfey

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Father Paul Hanly Furfey comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Furfey favored responding to social ills through a combination of collective and personal action.  He argued that the best collective action was faith-based, not secular and bourgeois.  Hence targets of his criticism included capitalism, Marxism, the New Deal, government interventionism, and Hull House.  Yet, later in life, he critiqued Liberation Theology from its left; it did not go far enough, he insisted.

Furfey was a priest and a sociologist.  He, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 30, 1896, studied in parochial schools in that city.  Then he studied at Boston College (A.B.).  Our saint continued his education at The Catholic University of America in 1917 and 1918.  A M.A. from St. Mary’s University, Baltimore, Maryland, followed.  Seminary followed.  Furfey, ordained in 1922, earned his Ph.D. in sociology from The Catholic University of America (1926) then studied medicine in Germany (1931-1932).  Early in his career, Furfey advocated for openly religious, scientific radicalism.  He was, therefore, critical of the New Deal while he affirmed the Catholic Worker Movement of Dorothy Day (1897-1980).  He also went on to associate himself with Personalism, the philosophy of Emmanuel Mournier (1905-1950).  Furthermore, Furfey rejected racism.  Our saint, who rote his doctoral dissertation on street gangs, taught sociology at The Catholic University of America.  He also helped to found Il Poverello (“the Poor One”), a settlement house, in Washington, D.C.  Il Poverello was a Roman Catholic counterpart to Hull House and Toynbee Hall.

Furfey, a recipient of many academic and ecclesiastical honors, was a leader in sociological discipline.  He led the Department of Sociology at The Catholic University of America, starting in the 1940s.  He also helmed the university’s Center for Research in Child Development.  Furthermore, our saint served as the President of the American Catholic Sociological Society.

Furfey became more radical as he aged.  Furfey, who had argued for obedience to the federal government during World War II, opposed the Vietnam War.  He helped to found the International Committee on Conscience on Vietnam in 1973.  His critique of the Great Society was that it was insufficient.  Wherever Furfey stood on an issue, he thought of the love of Christ, a revolutionary for the love of neighbors, as the role model.  Our saint was, as Nicholas Karl Rademacher called him in a his doctoral dissertation (2006) at The Catholic University of America, the “Apostle of Social Justice.”

Furfey, nearly 95 years old, died on June 8, 1992.

Looking up titles of Furfey’s books at Worldcat reveals the range of his output.  One finds titles about urban gangs, child development, morality, psychology, and the deaf, among other subjects.  Some titles are punchy.  How to Go to Hell (1937) sounds interesting, and The Respectable Murderers:  Social Evil and Christian Conscience (1966) is direct.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DE CHARGÉ AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF TIBHIRINE, ALGERIA, 1996

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUGENE DE MAZENOD, BISHOP OF MARSEILLES, AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSIONARIES, OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANZ JÄGGERSTÄTTER, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ADDISON AND ALEXANDER POPE, ENGLISH POETS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MANUEL GÓMEZ GONZÁLEZ, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1924; AND SAINT ADILO DARONCH, BRAZILIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC ALTAR BOY AND MARTYR, 1924

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Lord God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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