Furey, Francis James (1905–1979)

By: Brother Edward J. Loch, S.M.

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Francis James Furey, third archbishop and seventh bishop of San Antonio, son of John Francis and Anna (O'Donnell) Furey, was born at Summit Hill, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1905, the eldest of five children. He was educated in the public schools of Coaldale, Pennsylvania; St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Pennsylvania; and the Pontificio Seminario Romano Maggiore in Rome, where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy and sacred theology. Furey was ordained on March 15, 1930, in Rome. He served as secretary to Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, archbishop of Philadelphia (1930–36), president of Immaculata College (1936–46), and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (1946–58); he was engaged in pastoral work in the archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1958 to 1960. On August 24, 1960, he was appointed to the titular see of Temnus and appointed auxiliary to the archbishop of Philadelphia. In 1963 he was named coadjutor bishop of San Diego, California, and in 1966 was appointed bishop of San Diego. Furey was member of the administrative tribunal of the Second Vatican Council. On June 4, 1969, he was promoted to the archiepiscopal see of San Antonio, Texas, where he was installed on August 6, 1969. He was appointed vicar delegate for subjects of the Military Ordinariate in Texas and Louisiana on August 6, 1969. He held memberships at various times on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee, the United States Catholic Conference Communication Committee, and committees dealing with boundaries of dioceses and provinces, liaison of the NCCB and USCC with priests, religious, and laity, nomination of bishops, the permanent diaconate, liturgy, priestly formation, and migration and tourism. At the time of his death he was chairman of the NCCB Ad Hoc Committee for the Campaign for Human Development. He was a knight commander in the Legion of the Cedars of Lebanon (1956) and a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He was a recipient of the Pope Leo XIII Pilgrim's Medal and Pilgrim's Shell and the Texas AFL-CIO St. Joseph the Worker Award (1977). He was chaplain, Texas State Council, Knights of Columbus; bishop protector of the Catholic War Veterans of the U.S.A.; and a member of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Commission, appointed by Governor Preston Smith. He also held membership in the John Henry Newman Honorary Society and was on the advisory council to the Board of Directors, San Antonio Community Hospital, and the Board of Advisors of the Institute on Religious Life. He was an honorary member of the United States Marine Corps. He received honorary doctorates from La Salle College, Philadelphia; St. Joseph College, Philadelphia; Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania; St. John's University, Brooklyn, New York; Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland; and Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio.

Furey was a well-known public speaker and appeared frequently on television and radio. On his appointment as archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio, he faced a tense climate brought about by the controversy surrounding his predecessor, Archbishop Robert E. Lucey. Furey, a firm advocate of the reforms of Vatican II, ran the diocese in a less centralized fashion. He became known for his outspoken social stands. He was in favor of the death penalty, yet was a firm believer in human rights. He established a commission for Mexican-American affairs, believed to be the first diocesan agency of its kind in the country. He promoted the candidacy of the first Mexican-American bishop in the United States, Patrick F. Flores (1970), later archbishop of San Antonio. He was a vigorous backer of a network of activists called COPS (Communities Organized for Public Service). He was among the signers of a newspaper advertisement supporting a Texas Supreme Court decision upholding the state's Saturday-Sunday closing law. He was also notable for his backing of the Farah strike (October 1973) and the lettuce boycotts (see UNITED FARM WORKERS UNION). He established the Catholic Archives of San Antonio and promoted the establishment of archives in other dioceses. He died on April 25, 1979, at San Antonio and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Francis J. Furey Papers, Catholic Archives, Archdiocese of San Antonio. San Antonio Express, August 5, 1969. Today's Catholic, April 27, 1979. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Brother Edward J. Loch, S.M., “Furey, Francis James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/furey-francis-james.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995